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Air Quality

Air Pollutants and Monitoring

Sources of Air Pollution

Air pollution can take many forms, all of which can cause harm to our health and our environment. The Bureau of Air Quality is tasked with monitoring air pollution in South Carolina, and part of that process involves identifying the sources of pollution in the air we breathe.

About 75 percent of air pollution originates from human-made (or anthropogenic) sources, and their emissions are controlled through the Clean Air Act and individual state laws and regulations. The remaining 25 percent comes from natural sources.

To assist in organizing air pollution controls and their reductions, air pollutants are organized into three 'source' categories; Mobile, Nonpoint, and Point. Learn more about the three recognized sources of air pollution by using the links below.

Mobile Sources

Mobile Sources include vehicles (such as cars, trucks and buses) and off-road equipment (such as boats, airplanes, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other agricultural and construction equipment). Bus and car lines around schools, gas-operated equipment used to maintain your yard, and gasoline and oil spills on the roads can all contribute significant pollution to the air.

Running vehicles and equipment generate air pollution when they are idling. In fact, any more than 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than is required to restart the engine for most vehicles.

Mobile Source emissions contain carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), which are also known as Hydrocarbons. They also greatly contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 200 million vehicles driving on U.S. highways contribute 77 percent of total carbon monoxide (CO) and 45 percent of nitrogen oxides (NOX) in our air.

Related Links

Documents linked below are in pdf format.


For more information please contact the Bureau of Air Quality at (803) 898-4123 or by email.