The main sources of air pollution in the State are emissions from industrial stacks, vehicles and power plants, burning of fuel in domestic sector, Construction & Demolition, burning of agricultural residues in the harvesting season. Thus, the various types of pollution affecting the ambient air quality in Punjab are as under:

Industrial Emissions

State Pollution Control Board has categorized industries into three categories namely Red, Orange and Green keeping in view their pollution potential.  The Red category industries require environmental clearance from Competent State Authority of the Department of Environment. Many of these industries use coal or rice husk as fuel. Together these contribute to suspended particulates, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, organic compounds and other pollutants in the air.

Types of Air Polluting Industries in Punjab 

Name  of Industry

Major Air Pollutants

Rice, Sugar Food Products

Particulates, SO2, NOx


Particulates, Odour



Paper  Products & Printing

Particulates, Mercaptans

Leather  & Leather  Products

Particulates, Odour

Rubber  & Plastic Products

Particulates, Odour, VOCs

Chemical  Products

Cl2, HCl, Acid mist,  Acid fumes, Hydrocarbons

Non-Metallic Mineral  Products


Metal  Products

Particulates, CO, SO2, Acid Mist

Transport  Equipments & Parts


Brick Kilns

Particulates, SO2, CO


Odour, Particulates

Rolling, Forging & Galvanizing units

Particulates, SO2, NOx

Fertilizer, Vanaspati, Thermal,  Cement

Odour, Particulates

Vehicular Emissions 

Vehicular emissions are of particular concern since these are ground level sources and thus  have  the  maximum impact on  the  human population and  other biotic  components. The major pollutants released as vehicle/fuel emissions are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, photochemical oxidants, air toxics namely benzene, aldehydes, 1-3 butadiene, lead, particulate matter, hydrocarbon, oxides of sulphur and   polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.      

While the predominant pollutants in petrol/gasoline driven vehicles are hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, the predominant pollutants from the diesel based vehicles are oxides of nitrogen and particulates. As per studies by Central Pollution Control Board, vehicular emissions are responsible for most of hydrocarbons (90-95%) and  carbon monoxide (70-80%) emissions.

Burning of Garbage, Agriculture & other Biomass

Municipal solid waste generation of the city is being dumped unscientifically in the present dumping sites & along with roads. The garbage burning increases during winter season as the general public tend to burn the waste for heating purposes.

Pollution from agricultural activities also adversely affects the state’s environment. The state produces about 20 million tons of rice straw, and 17 million tons of wheat straw every year, a part of which (about 81% of rice straw and 48% of wheat straw) is burnt in the fields to make way for the next crop. Besides leading to loss of soil fertility, it causes severe air pollution especially during the months of March-April and October-November. The smoke also impairs visibility which can cause road accidents. Though LPG is the main source of domestic fuel in urban areas, however, cow dung cakes and wood are still used in rural areas and slums. Further, due to high per capita income and adoption of modern life style, use of air conditioners and refrigerators in the state is increasing rapidly. This contributes to air pollution by ozone depleting substances. Further, since the state faces acute power shortage problem, use of diesel/kerosene gen-sets in domestic and commercial sector is rampant.

Road Dust Emissions

Fugitive road dust emissions are one of the major sources of air pollution. Un-carpeted Road surface and even carpeted road with poor drainage results in the spread of fine dust through traffic movement or wind. It has been mainly observed that the roads of industrial area are not carpeted in bigger industrial clusters like Mandi Gobindgarh & Ludhiana. Road dust emissions with movement of heavy trucks on uncarpeted road deteriorate the quality of ambient air which is visible in nature. The pollution from road dust can be controlled with carpeting of roads, maintenance of potholes free roads for free-flow of traffic, water sprinklers, mechanical sweeping of roads, Creation of green buffers along the road sides, Water fountains at major traffic intersections etc.

Construction & Demolition Activities

Infrastructure developments in the State has been growing with many major construction projects like housing, industrial units / commercial units etc. To minimize the pollution generated from the construction and demolition activities, following key activities has been proposed in state action plans of clean air: (i) Enforcement of Construction & Demolition (C & D) Rules,2016. (ii) Control measures for fugitive emissions (iii) Ensure carriage of construction material in closed/covered vessels.

Emissions from Diesel Generator (DG) sets

DG sets are a one of the major sources of air pollution as well as noise pollution. These emit oxides of Nitrogen, Carbon monoxide and particulate matter. These emissions are directly released into the atmosphere and tend to substantially reduce the quality of air. The emissions from diesel generators make it difficult for people living around to breathe. Standards have been laid by the government in terms of noise levels, emission levels and other guidelines for manufactures and buyers.

Noise Pollution

Increasing urbanization and industrialization and high density of traffic in Punjab   has resulted in increased noise levels in the environment leading to noise pollution. The ordinary citizens particularly in Punjab and the Northern Plains also contribute towards noise pollution during religious ceremonies and festivals.