Impacts of Air Pollution on Health

In this modern era, air pollution has created a lot of nuisance in developed as well as in developing countries. And the major impact of this problem is on the healthcare system. In fact, in developing countries, people are exposed to highest degree of air pollution, also in indoor atmosphere.


The major impact of air pollutants on the human health is on his/her respiratory system affecting the lungs. Let us check out the various health issues caused by specific air pollutants.

Health impacts –

Environmental pollutants such as gases, odors, dust, fumes, mist, smoke, and suspended particulate matter (SPM) are responsible for affecting the health. The high level of concentration of these pollutants can adversely affect the health that may require medical attention.

• Biological Wastes

Biological wastes are the pollutants that are mostly considered as allergens, such as dust, dust mites, pollen, mold, sudden climatic change, etc. These allergens can cause allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), and other allergic disorders.

• Carbon Monoxide (CO)

CO is the most popular pollutant that is found in abundant amount in air. Inhalation of CO through respiratory tract aggregates with the Hemoglobin that decreases the oxygen supply to lungs and other parts of the body, like brain, heart and developing embryo as well. CO can greatly impair the mental function that slows down the concentration and reflexes, and makes one drowsy and confused.

• Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)

Due to increased combustion of fossil fuels in environment, SO2 is accumulated in the air that further oxidizes and converts into Sulphuric Acid mist. Diseases caused by SO2 are lung disorders, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, respiratory infections, etc. that produce symptoms like chronic cough, wheezing and breathlessness.

• Nitrogen Oxide

Oxides of nitrogen are thickly present in atmosphere, which affect respiratory system to great extent. Nitrogen oxide can make children vulnerable to respiratory infection, especially in winter.

• Tobacco Smoke

A cigarette smoke contains innumerable chemicals that may seriously and adversely affect health. As we are pretty aware that tobacco smoke causes cancer, both to the smoker as well as passive smoker. Secondhand smokers experience burning sensation in nose and eyes, throat irritation, bronchitis, asthma, lung infections and cancer.

• Ozone

Constant exposure of ozone (a specific gaseous agent) makes your eyes itchy with burning and watering. Ozone is also believed to increases the chance of respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis; and it lowers the immune system that further reduces the resistance to common colds.

• Radon

Radon is a radioactive gaseous material that is often accumulated around the house, as it originates from soil and rocks. Radon, being a radioactive element has the ability to develop lung cancer, if exposed.


Suspended particulate matter consists of fumes, dust, smoke and mist; these pollutants are loaded with harmful chemicals like Arsenic, Lead and Nickel. These chemicals when inhaled are deposited in the lung tissues that may damage the lungs causing irreversible respiratory disorders. Health experts emphasize more on these SPMs as they have affected innumerable people across the globe than any other pollutants. Also, there are strong evidences of these particles in environmental pollution.

These are few common environmental pollutants that primarily affect respiratory system, cardiovascular system and nervous system. Hence, it is recommended to stay away from these particles by protecting your lungs by wearing a nose-mask.