Health Effects of Air Pollution

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, there has been a drastic change in the atmosphere’s composition mainly because of the combustion of fossil fuels, which were used for transportation and energy generation. Air pollution occurs when harmful substances such as particulates, biological molecules, etc., are introduced into the Earth’s atmosphere. It is the black colored cloud belching from the numerous industrial smokestacks. It is the smelly exhaust from a car that burns oil. It is the smog that settles over cities and dimming the skylines. It causes harmful effects on the environment like mist, smog, acid rain, etc.

Air pollution can be separated into two categories: Indoor air pollution and Outdoor air pollution.

Indoor air pollution: It involves exposure to particulates and various pollutants carried by dust or indoor air. For example:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Household chemical products
  • Building materials
  • Tobacco smoke

Outdoor air pollution: It involves the exposure that takes place outside of the built environment. For example:

  • Noxious Gases
  • Ground-level ozone
  • Fine particles from fossil fuel burning
  • Tobacco smoke

Any human being can experience health impacts from air pollution, which includes breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation. It also causes many diseases, allergies, and even death. Some health effects of air pollution are discussed below.

Biological pollutant

Biological pollutants are mostly allergens that can cause hay fever, asthma, and other harmful allergic diseases.


Exposure to this air pollutant can irritate the nose and eyes. Formaldehyde also causes allergies in many people.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most harmful air pollutants. It combines with hemoglobin and decreases the amount of oxygen that enters our blood through our lungs. It also leads to improper functioning of the cardiovascular system and the brain. It can also slow our reflexes, impair our concentration, and make us sleepy and confused.


Exposure to ozone can make our eyes burn and itch. It also increases respiratory disorders like asthma and decreases our immunity to pneumonia and cold.

Suspended particulate matter (SPM)

Air pollution causes fumes, dust, mist, and smoke called suspended particulate matter or SPM. It causes many respiratory problems and damages the lungs.


Exposure to lead for a long time can damage the nervous system, cause problems in the digestive system, and cause cancer. It is very hazardous to children.

Tobacco smoke

It generates many harmful chemicals and causes ill health. The health effects of tobacco smoke are burning sensation in the nose and eye, bronchitis, improper lung function, throat irritation, cancer, and more.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

Sulfur dioxide is formed due to the rise in the combustion of fossil fuels. It causes lung diseases and lungs disorder such as shortness of breath, wheezing, etc.

These were some harmful health effects of air pollution. Subscribe to Byju’s YouTube Channel to learn more interesting topics with engaging and interactive video lessons.