Clean ambient air is the basis for life.
When speaking of ambient air, we first and foremost mean the layer of air close to the ground. It has been internationally agreed that all ambient air samples shall be collected at 2 meters above ground level. This enables receiving comparable results. However, the thickness of the ozone layer is determined in a column of air, the height of which is measured in tens of kilometres.
International conventions seek to regulate all of these processes as well as limit and decrease the impact of human activity. Since the 1970s, attempts have been made to decrease the amount of pollutant emissions into ambient air. The most successful results have been achieved in decreasing the emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2). However, there is an increasing number of new pollutants on the agenda. Attempts are made to regulate the emission of substances by strict control of production technology and a system of permits. Compulsory measures also include imposing taxes on the amount of pollutants emitted.
Factors influencing ambient air include
- Various chemical compounds, some of which are damaging to health while others are neutral in respect to people but not the environment (for example, carbon dioxide CO2)
- Ionising radiation, i.e. radiation having an impact on living tissues
- Non-ionising radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation
- Electromagnetic fields
- Light pollution
- Odour pollution
- Local sources of pollution, i.e. energy and technological devices, which are the source for a large part of global problems;
- Transport, especially car transport as one of the main reasons of urban air pollution;
- Radars, radio stations and solariums as sources of electromagnetic fields and ultraviolet radiation;
- X-ray and radiation therapy equipment, various radioactive substances used in the industry and science as sources of ionising radiation.