Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.
Airplanes are a very visible source of air pollution, but their impact on air quality appears to be very limited. While they can produce relatively large concentrations of air pollutants, these pollutants are, in gerneral, released miles above the surface of the earth and have plenty of time to dilute before reaching an area occupied by people.
There is some evidence that airports can contribute to local air quality issues but this is likely due more to the large number of ground vehicles in the area, not the airplanes themselves.
There are many small businesses that emit air toxics such as dry cleaners, gas stations, auto body shops, etc. These sources are classified as area sources because they often don't have a single release point and usually consist of many small sources over a given area.
If an area source releases enough air toxics, it may be required to get an air permit from IDEM.
All the sources listed on this graphic occur across the nation and around the world. This pollution can be carried great distances, across state and international borders.
Although IDEM cannot directly regulate these soruces, it is important to have a sense of where air toxics are coming from so that our limited resources can be used wisely.
Many natural processes give off air toxics. Trees and other plants off-gas compounds that are major contributors to ozone pollution.
Additionally, some animals are known to produce large amounts of methane. These sources are referred to as biogenic sources.
Marine sources include emissions from any water-going vessel such as boats, barges, ships, etc.
These sources are not generally directly regulated by IDEM or U.S. EPA but emissions standards for engines help to reduce emissions from these types of sources.
Vehicles which are used primarily in off road settings, such as construction equipment or farm equipment are considered off-road mobile sources.
Cars and trucks are considered on-road mobile sources. They appear to be one of the most important sources of air toxics because there are such a large number of them, and they are usually located where there are a many people.
In some circumstances IDEM and U.S. EPA will require emissions inspection of cars and trucks, but in general we rely on vehicle exhaust emissions standards to help reduce air toxics concentrations from these sources.
Large industrial facilities are considered point sources. They often have many smokestacks and can produce large amounts of air toxics.
Point sources are required to report their emissions to IDEM and get operating permits from IDEM every 1 to 3 years, depending on the size of the source.
Residential Sources of air toxics can include emissions from lawn mowers, outdoor grills, and household cleaners. IDEM does not regulate these emissions directly but does have several programs, such as KNOZONE action days, meant to help citizens use pollution causing products responsibly.