Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological material
A biomolecule is any molecule that is produced by a living organism, including large polymeric molecules such as proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and nucleic acids as well as small molecules such as primary metabolites, secondary metabolites, and natural products...

s that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

 or built environment
Built environment
The term built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from personal shelter and buildings to neighborhoods and cities that can often include their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply or energy networks.The built...

, into the atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...


The atmosphere is a complex dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. Stratospheric
The stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. It is stratified in temperature, with warmer layers higher up and cooler layers farther down. This is in contrast to the troposphere near the Earth's surface, which is cooler...

 ozone depletion
Ozone depletion
Ozone depletion describes two distinct but related phenomena observed since the late 1970s: a steady decline of about 4% per decade in the total volume of ozone in Earth's stratosphere , and a much larger springtime decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earth's polar regions. The latter phenomenon...

 due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth's ecosystems.

Indoor air pollution and urban air quality are listed as two of the world's worst pollution problems in the 2008 Blacksmith Institute
Blacksmith Institute
Founded in 1999, Blacksmith Institute is an international non-for-profit organization dedicated to eliminating life-threatening pollution in the developing world. Blacksmith identifies and cleans up the world's worst polluted places, focusing on communities where children are most at risk. Based in...

 World's Worst Polluted Places report.
A substance in the air that can cause harm to humans and the environment is known as an air pollutant.