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Air is a gas mixture. It is mostly composed of Nitrogen (78%), Oxygen (21%) and to a smaller extent there are constantly present Argon, Carbon Dioxide and Water Vapour. A man can survive without oxygen without any consequences for health only for five minutes which is why the quality of the air we breathe is very important. 
In addition to permanent compounds other substances in smaller concentrations are occasionally present in air which may have adverse effects for a living and non-living world. Their presence is a result of human activity (anthropogenic sources) and natural sources.
The main anthropogenic sources of outside air pollutants are:

  • combustion of fossil fuels in the production of electric energy, in transport, industry and households;
  • industrial processes and solvent use (for example in the chemical and mineral industry);
  • agriculture and
  • waste treatment.


The main pollutants and group of pollutants of outside air are: sulphur dioxide (SO”), nitrogen oxides (Nox), vaporous organic substances (HOS), ammonia (NH3), matters (PM10, PM2,5, TSP), ground-level ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), benzene, heavy metals, polycylcic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), persistent organic pollutants (POP). 
Two pollutants, matters (PM10, PM 2,5) and ground-level ozone (O3) are recognised as the most essential as regards effects on human health as these are the greatest problem in the achievement of prescribed limiting values for matters and ground-level ozone. The highest exposure in the long term may have various effects on health which may stem from smaller effects to the respiratory system and lead right up to premature mortality.
Air pollution is detrimental also to our environment, for example by causing acidification, eutrophication, damage to agricultural products (due to exposure to high concentrations of ozone).


The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, within the Environment Policy, prepares and monitors basic strategic documents in the field of the environment (for example, the national environment protection programme), other operational programmes, theme strategies and systemic tasks concerning integration of environmental protection in policies of other sectors. On the basis of guidelines from these documents it prepares regulations which are used for the implementation of air protection.