What Are Some Negative Effects of Air Pollution?

Air pollution is caused when particles and gases of chemicals and toxins contaminate the air. The presence of chemicals and toxic in the air can have many harmful effects for the environment, and can also lead to a number of acute and chronic health effects. Individuals, such as younger children, the elderly or those with pulmonary or cardiac conditions, are especially vulnerable to the negative health effects associated with air pollution.

  1. Effects on the Respiratory System

    • Air pollution can lead to serious health problems, including respiratory conditions.
      Air pollution can lead to serious health problems, including respiratory conditions.

      Since it affects the air we breathe, air pollution can cause a number of dangerous health conditions. Short-term effects include coughing, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, excessive phlegm, chest pain and shortness of breath. The pollution can cause more long-lasting effects by damaging lung tissue and leading to a variety of respiratory symptoms. The inhalation of toxins such as arsenic, chromates and radioactive particles may be carcinogenic and cause cancer. People with preexisting conditions, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, run an especially high risk.

    Other Health Effects

    • Air pollution doesn't only affect the respiratory system: its stress on the body can intensify hearth disease and lead to chest pain. Particles in the air can irritate the eyes and skin, in addition to the lungs. Carbon monoxide can lead to headaches and nausea, and decrease mental alertness. Other toxic substances in air pollution can engender a number of neurological and reproductive disorders, and may even cause cancer.

    Environmental Effects

    • An acid lake, resulting from acid rain and air pollution.
      An acid lake, resulting from acid rain and air pollution.

      Pollutants infesting the air can lead to other environmental concerns. When acid rain--caused when emissions mix with atmospheric water--falls to earth, it can contaminate rivers and lakes and harm plant life. The accumulation of potent gases in the atmosphere also contributes to global warming, leading to changing sea levels and climate change across the Earth. Along with threatening the environment, increase in harmful UV rays from global warming can also cause cancer.

    Economic Effects

    • Air pollution threatens agriculture and the economy.
      Air pollution threatens agriculture and the economy.

      The negative effects of air pollution ripple to the economy. Health effects impair the working population, which lowers productivity. The cost of treating health conditions related to air pollution is also extremely expensive, and creates another burden for the government and its tax payers. Air pollution's harmful effects on the environment are especially detrimental to agriculture and other industries which rely on the environment.

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  • Photo Credit Polution image by Mac Harlock from Fotolia.com thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com acid lake image by Evgeny from Fotolia.com agriculture image by Gudellaphoto from Fotolia.com

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