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Air quality is one of the most important aspects of the state of the environment. Poor air quality has a significant impact on our health, well-being and environment. Air pollution affects human health and well-being more than other environmental impacts and is considered to be the main cause of health problems related to environmental pollution.


Air consists of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), argon (0.9%), carbon dioxide (0.04%), trace amounts of other gases and variable amounts of water vapour. A person can survive only five minutes without oxygen without any effects on health, so the quality of air that we breathe is very important.

Sources of air pollution

Air pollution is mainly caused by human activity, though natural events such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions can also cause air quality to deteriorate. Major sources of air pollution are the burning of fossil fuels in electricity generation, transport, industry and households, industrial processes, the use of solvents, agriculture, and waste management.

Effects of air pollution on human health and the environment

Long-term exposure to air pollution can result in a variety of health effects, ranging from minor effects on the respiratory system to premature death. Air pollution causes or exacerbates cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and cancer. Air pollution is the main environment-related cause of premature death in the EU, accounting for ten times more deaths than road accidents.

Air pollution is harmful to the environment, causes acidification of soil and waters, causes eutrophication, reduces crop yields, damages forests and causes corrosion.

Air protection objectives

The long-term goal is to achieve a level of air quality that does not have major negative impacts on human health and the environment and does not pose a serious risk to human health and the environment. The objectives in the field of air protection are expressed as the quantities of pollutants emitted into the air in a calendar year in a country (air pollutant emissions) and as the permitted concentrations of individual pollutants in ambient air (air quality). To what extent the air is polluted is evident from air pollutant emission inventories, while the quality of air is shown in the concentrations of ambient air pollutants at monitoring sites. Exposure to air pollution will be reduced by reducing air pollutant emissions and setting limit and target values for air quality. 

Measures to improve air quality

In order to improve air quality, a series of measures at several levels were adopted. We prepared regulations for air quality assessment, monitoring of emissions of pollutants into the air and preparation of measures to improve air quality; these were adopted by the Government. To reduce air pollution at the national level, we prepared the Operational Programme for Air Pollution Control (OPNOZ). We also prepared air quality plans for areas with high values of PM10 particulate matter.

The Slovenian Environment Agency monitors ambient air quality and prepares the national database on air emissions.