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Air pollution results from the introduction of a range of substances into the atmosphere from a wide variety of sources. It can cause both short term and long term effects on health, but also on the wider environment. The air quality in Scotland is generally better now than it has been at any time since before the Industrial Revolution.

These improvements have been achieved through the introduction of legislation enforcing tighter controls on emissions of pollutants from key sources, notably industry, domestic combustion and transport.  However, despite the improvements made, air pollution is still recognised as a risk to health, and many people are concerned about pollution in the air that they breathe.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year being attributed to long-term exposure (UK Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants). In 2018, Health Protection Scotland estimated that approximately 1700 attributable (premature) deaths in Scotland annually can be attributed to air pollution. Legislation and Policies aiming to further minimise and track the impact of air pollution on health and the environment have been introduced in Europe, the UK and Scotland.  Further information on this can be found here: Legislation and Policy.

For further specialist information on pollutants and their impacts on habitats and species, please refer to the UK Air Pollution Information System (APIS) .