The air of Cape Town is among the most polluted in South Africa, ranking alongside the coalfields of Witbank and Limpopo in the country's northern region.
The findings were presented by experts at a recent seminar held by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Cape Town.
The city's air quality exceeds the safety limit for aerosols, as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The scientists said that the main sources of visible air pollution in Cape Town come from vehicle emissions, industrial fumes and wood-burning. The most polluted areas are in the city's townships where wood burning for cooking and heating is common practice.
Other sources of pollution in Cape Town include mountain fires, windblown dust from unpaved areas, and the burning of rubbish.
Those caught breaking pollution laws face fines of up to R5 million or jail terms of up to five years, as provided for under South Africa's National Environment Management Air Quality Act.
The city health department has called on residents to report pollution offenders to the Air Quality Management Offices at tel. 0215901419.