Air quality


There are various pollutants that have harmful effects on human health and the environment. Generally these pollutants are the products of combustion occurring from industrial processes and road traffic.

The most common pollutants along with health effects are listed below.

PollutantHealth effect
Nitrogen DioxideHigh levels cause inflammation to the airways of the lungs.  Long term exposure can reduce lung function. Can enhance the effect of allergens in sensitive individuals.
Particulate MatterShort and long term are associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illness.
Sulphur dioxideCauses constriction of the airways of the lungs.
Carbon monoxideReduces the uptake of oxygen in the blood, this can lead to reduction of oxygen to the bodies tissues.
OzoneHigh concentration can irritate the eyes and nose.  Very high levels can cause inflammation to the airways of the lungs.

For a more detailed list of pollutants, sources and health effects, go to What are the causes of air pollution from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).