What is the conclusion for pollution?

Conclusion: In a nutshell, every kind of pollution leaves a huge negative impact on our environment, human lives, animals etc. We, as responsible citizens, must take steps towards a better tomorrow. We must join hands to take various initiatives and fight against this problem.

What is water conclusion?

Freshwater is a finite and limited resource on Earth and, increasingly, much of it is polluted, by both pathogenic microbes and chemical contaminants. Human demand for freshwater is increasing; in particular, water is required to irrigate crops to feed the rapidly expanding human population.

What is water pollution summary?

Water pollution happens when toxic substances enter water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans and so on, getting dissolved in them, lying suspended in the water or depositing on the bed. This degrades the quality of water.

What is the importance of water pollution?

Water pollution can cause water to become toxic to humans and the environment. Water is an essential resource for all life on Earth. If a water source becomes contaminated due to pollution, it can lead to health issues in humans, such as cancer or cardiovascular conditions.

How do we write a conclusion?

Here are four key tips for writing stronger conclusions that leave a lasting impression:

  • Include a topic sentence. Conclusions should always begin with a topic sentence. …
  • Use your introductory paragraph as a guide. …
  • Summarize the main ideas. …
  • Appeal to the reader’s emotions. …
  • Include a closing sentence.

What is conclusion of environment?

Our natural environment makes human life possible, and our cultural environment helps define who we are. It is therefore essential that our population and economic growth are environmentally sustainable.

How can we save water conclusion?

Save Water will Save our lives !! Save water is an initiative to promote water conservation among people in order to maintain the presence of clean water on the earth in future. Clean water scarcity has become one of the big problems in India and other countries all over the world affecting people’s lives in many ways.

What is the conclusion of water resource?

Our water resources, irregularly distributed in space and time, are under pressure due to major population change and increased demand. Access to reliable data on the availability, quality and quantity of water, and its variability, form the necessary foundation for sound management of water resources.

Why should we save water conclusion?

Water is most important necessity of life for all the living beings on the earth. Without water no one can exist even for a day. We also know that there is very less percentage of clean water means drinking water available on the earth. So, we should not waste clean water and save it for future generations.

What are the 10 causes of water pollution?

Various Causes of Water Pollution

  • Industrial Waste. …
  • Sewage and Wastewater. …
  • Mining Activities. …
  • Marine Dumping. …
  • Accidental Oil Leakage. …
  • The burning of fossil fuels. …
  • Chemical fertilizers and pesticides. …
  • Leakage From Sewer Lines.

What are effects of pollution?

Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs. Some scientists suspect air pollutants cause birth defects.

What are effects of water pollution?

Effects of Pollution of Water It causes typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and various other diseases. Destruction of Ecosystems: Ecosystems are extremely dynamic and respond to even small changes in the environment. Water pollution can cause an entire ecosystem to collapse if left unchecked.

What causes pollution?

The Short Answer: Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases that are suspended in the air. These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes and wildfires. The solid and liquid particles suspended in our air are called aerosols.

What are the effects of water pollution on environment?

Water pollution causes degradation of aquatic life in systems. Water pollution causes an algal bloom in a lake or marine environment, the proliferation of newly introduced nutrients stimulates plant and algae growth, which in turn reduces oxygen levels in the water.

What are the effects of pollution on human health?

Exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes. It increases the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer. Both short and long term exposure to air pollutants have been associated with health impacts. More severe impacts affect people who are already ill.

What is a conclusion example?

For example, if you write a paper about zoo animals, each paragraph would probably be about one particular animal. In your conclusion, you should briefly mention each animal again. “Zoo animals like polar bears, lions, and giraffes are amazing creatures.” Leave your readers with something to think about.

How many sentences are in a conclusion?

Key aspects to remember: A strong essay conclusion consists of three sentences minimum. It concludes thoughts, not presents new ideas.

What is conclusion sentence?

What is a Concluding Sentence? The conclusion is the last sentence in your paragraph. … – Wrap up your paragraph. – Consider using transition words to signify the end of your paragraph.

How can we save the environment conclusion?

We can save our environment by: Pollution control laws should be imposed strictly. Restriction on the use of fossil fuels should be imposed. In its place, the usage of non-conventional sources of energy should be encouraged.

What is the conclusion of natural resources?

Of all the natural resources used by humans, two stand out as having the biggest impact on human survival and environmental quality. Mineral and fossil fuel resources are largely responsible for moving human civilization from hunter-gatherer societies to heavily industrialized urban ones.

What is the conclusion of sustainable development?

Sustainable development is largely about people, their well-being, and equity in their relationships with each other, in a context where nature-society imbalances can threaten economic and social stability.

Why should we save water essay?

We now need to be aware of the depletion of fresh water and take adequate measures to stop this. Water saving should be and is the universal responsibility of every human being, living on this Earth. There are many ways in which we can save water and reduce their pollution. Be responsible to save water daily.

How can we save water essay?

Make it your personal responsibility to save water daily. Install canals on your rooftops so that rainwater can be reused for household purposes or can recharge groundwater. Use the full capacity of your washing machine while washing clothes. Water the plants in the evening to minimize evaporation.

How can we save water in our daily life?

25 ways to save water

  • Check your toilet for leaks. …
  • Stop using your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. …
  • Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank. …
  • Take shorter showers. …
  • Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. …
  • Take baths. …
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. …
  • Turn off the water while shaving.

What does make a conclusion mean?

A conclusion is the last part of something, its end or result. … The phrase in conclusion means finally, to sum up, and is used to introduce some final comments at the end of a speech or piece of writing.

How can we help stop water pollution?

9 Ways to Reduce Water Pollution in the 21st Century

  • Reduce the Use of Chemicals When Cleaning. …
  • Practice Water Conservation. …
  • Dispose of your Medications Properly. …
  • Avoid the Use of Pesticides and Herbicides. …
  • Avoid Water-Polluting Recreational Activities. …
  • Avoid Disposing Items into the Toilet. …
  • Maintain your Car.

What is the need of water resources?

Water resources are sources of water that are useful or potentially useful to humans. It is important because it is needed for life to exist. Many uses of water include agricultural, industrial, household, recreational and environmental activities. Virtually all of these human uses require fresh water.

How does saving water help the environment?

It can also reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water. … This lowers energy demand, which helps prevent air pollution.

Why should we save water class 3?

Living organisms need water to maintain the vital balance in their bodies. We also use water for cooking, cleaning, washing, etc every day in our home. It is also used for different processes in the factories for making goods. Water is also used for growing crops and other food sources.

How can we save water in college?


  • On our new campus, we are putting water treatment plants. …
  • We collect water from building roofs and the water is stored underground. …
  • Water conservation activites are actively pursued. …
  • The college uses partially treated sewage water for plants.

what is a conclusion of environmental pollution

Graduated from ENSAT (national agronomic school of Toulouse) in plant sciences in 2018, I pursued a CIFRE doctorate under contract with Sun’Agri and INRAE ​​in Avignon between 2019 and 2022. My thesis aimed to study dynamic agrivoltaic systems, in my case in arboriculture. I love to write and share science related Stuff Here on my Website. I am currently continuing at Sun’Agri as an R&D engineer.

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National Academies Press: OpenBook

Building a Foundation for Sound Environmental Decisions (1997)

Chapter: 5 summary, conclusions, and recommendations, 5 summary, conclusions, and recommendations.

Pressures on the environment will continue to increase. Global population increase, rising incomes, and agricultural and industrial expansion will inevitably produce unanticipated and potentially deleterious ecological, economic, and human health consequences. Environmental research has proven its value in helping to respond to and prevent many environmental problems, and it continues to be a wise and necessary investment.

The charge to this committee was to provide an overview of significant emerging environmental issues; identify and prioritize research themes and projects that are most relevant to understanding and resolving these issues; and consider the role of EPA's research program in addressing these issues, in the context of research being conducted or sponsored by other organizations. After careful deliberation, the committee decided not to simply present a limited list of "emerging" issues with specific research projects to address them. Such an exercise would provide a mere snapshot in time, based on the insights of one particular collection of individuals. Instead—and hopefully more valuably—this report provides an overview of important environmental issues and presents a framework for organizing environmental research. The report also describes major research themes and programs of relevance to EPA; suggests criteria that can be used to identify and prioritize among important research areas; recommends actions EPA should take to build its scientific capacity; and provides illustrations of the kinds of research projects that EPA should consider.


As a key environmental agency, EPA needs to support and maintain a strong research program. An evolving understanding of the complexity, magnitude,

and inter-relatedness of environmental problems leads us to conclude that a new balance of research programs may be helpful. This report describes a framework for conducting research in a way that will help alleviate the problems of the moment while providing a basis for solving tomorrow's problems.

In the past, pressing environmental issues have been addressed primarily through focused research efforts directed toward solving particular problems. Although this approach to environmental research can be effective, has often been necessary, and will surely continue, it also has limitations. In order to address the abundance of established, emerging, and as-yet-unknown environmental issues, an expanded understanding of the scientific principles underlying environmental systems is needed. Achieving this understanding will require innovative, interdisciplinary approaches.

To develop the knowledge needed to address current and emerging environmental issues, EPA should undertake both problem-driven research and core research . Problem-driven research is targeted at understanding and solving identified environmental problems, while core research aims to provide broader, more generic information that will help improve understanding of many problems now and in the future. Core research includes three components: (1) understanding the processes that drive and connect environmental systems; (2) development of innovative tools and methods for understanding and managing environmental problems; and (3) long-term collection and dissemination of accurate environmental data.

Research activities within problem-driven and core research programs may often overlap. Fundamental discoveries can be made during the search for a solution to a narrowly defined problem; likewise, as illustrated earlier in this report, breakthroughs in problem-solving often occur as a result of core research efforts. Both kinds of investigations are needed, and feedback between them will greatly enhance the overall environmental research endeavor (see Figure 5-1 ).

Because EPA's task of protecting the environment and human health is so vast and difficult, and because resources to undertake the necessary research are very limited, choices will have to be made among many worthwhile projects. The approaches for making these choices will be different in the core and problem-driven portions of the research program. The former should seek better understanding of fundamental phenomena and generate broadly relevant research tools and information. The latter will be more responsive to regulatory activities and other immediate needs and should be guided by the paradigm of risk reduction. Because there are so many specific issues of importance to the public, the Congress, and EPA's own program and regional offices, there is a temptation to include many problems for attention. It is important to resist this trend: it will inevitably lead either to the dilution of efforts to solve the most pressing problems or to the reduction of funding available for critical core research needs.

what is a conclusion of environmental pollution

FIGURE 5-1 A framework for environmental research at EPA.

Interactions among the natural environment, plants, animals, and the evergrowing human population are highly complex and inherently unpredictable. Although this report provides a broad overview of current and emerging environmental issues, it is important to note that this is merely a snapshot in time. Identification of issues requiring attention is a dynamic, continuous process.

With its limited budget, staff, and mandate, it is not possible or reasonable for EPA to act alone in understanding and addressing all environmental problems. Many other federal agencies, state agencies, other organizations (including utilities), universities, and private companies have played and will continue to play important roles in environmental research. Cooperation with others will be particularly needed in the area of environmental monitoring, a complex and costly undertaking, and in the investigation of global-scale issues.

Another factor to consider in determining EPA's research role on a particular environmental issue is whether the private sector has any incentive to study or develop better solutions, or whether the primary research must originate from the public sector to serve the public good. Examples of areas of "public good" that might deserve EPA attention include municipal wastewater and drinking water treatment, nonpoint-source pollution control, restoration of degraded ecosystems, and large-scale regional and global air pollution problems.


To enhance the productivity and effectiveness of EPA's research efforts, the committee makes recommendations in three areas: a general approach to research, core research themes, and problem-driven research themes.

Approach to Research

EPA should establish a balance between problem-driven and core research. Although there is currently an emphasis on problem-driven research projects in EPA, the core component of EPA's research program should be developed to be approximately equal in magnitude.

EPA should develop an internal mechanism for continually identifying emerging issues and then applying a risk assessment evaluation to these issues to determine the highest priorities and areas of greatest uncertainty. One important method for identifying emerging issues is to review and synthesize new findings from the core research program. EPA research personnel should be fully engaged in the issue identification and research planning process.

EPA should cooperate closely with agencies, organizations, municipalities, universities, and industries involved in environmental research. In addition to providing research support, mechanisms for cooperation might include participation of EPA management in interagency coordination efforts, participation of staff in scientific meetings and conferences, and incentives and rewards for individuals who seek out and work with their counterparts in other organizations. Collaboration should be maintained in research endeavors, environmental monitoring, data archiving, and environmental policy formulation and evaluation. EPA should continue to act as a coordinator in bringing various environmental researchers together to exchange information and ideas, possibly in the form of interdisciplinary workshops on particular environmental topics. This would also help in ''scanning the horizon" to identify new environmental trends and emerging problems. Through these meetings, EPA can discuss the relative risks as well as solutions and policies and can determine which areas require more research.

EPA should compile, publish, and disseminate an annual summary of all research being conducted or funded by the agency in order to facilitate both better cooperation with others and better internal planning. The report should be organized into broad strategic categories, with sub-categories describing program areas. Publications and other output should be listed and made available upon request.

Core Research Themes

The core component of EPA's research program should include three basic objectives:

Acquisition of systematic understanding about underlying environmental processes (such as those displayed in Table 2.2 );

Development of broadly applicable research tools, including better techniques for measuring physical, chemical, biological, social, and economic variables of interest; more accurate models of complex systems and their interactions; and new methods for analyzing, displaying, and using environmental information for science-based decision making;

Design, implementation, and maintenance of appropriate environmental monitoring programs, with evaluation, analysis, synthesis and dissemination of the data and results to improve understanding of the status of and changes in environmental resources over time and to confirm that environmental policies are having the desired effect.

Core research projects should be selected based on their relevance to EPA's mission, whether such research is already being sponsored by other agencies, and the quality of the work proposed, as determined by a peer-review process. Cross-cutting, interdisciplinary studies that take advantage of advances in many different fields will be particularly valuable.

As part of its core research efforts, EPA should conduct retrospective evaluations of the effectiveness of environmental policies and decisions. Retrospective evaluations are critical to ensuring that environmental policies are achieving their intended goals without creating unpredicted, undesirable side-effects.

EPA should make a long-term financial and intellectual commitment to core research projects. Progress in core research generally does not come quickly; therefore it is important that the agency provide adequate long-term support to this kind of knowledge development, allowing it to follow its often unpredictable course. Tool development and data collection must be ongoing endeavors in order to be fully effective.

Problem-Driven Research Themes

EPA should maintain a focused, problem-driven research program. The problem-driven and core research areas will be complementary and result in the interaction of ideas and results.

Evaluation of problem-driven research areas should focus on reducing the risks and uncertainties associated with each problem. EPA should retain its emphasis on risk assessment to prioritize among problem-driven research areas. Using criteria such as timing, novelty, scope, severity, and probability satisfies this requirement, as does the more detailed risk assessment framework described in the EPA strategic plan for ORD. Although risk assessment and

TABLE 5-1 Recommended Actions for EPA

management provide a good framework for choosing among issues, the methodology must be refined to achieve more accurate assessments.

EPA should concentrate efforts in areas where the private sector has little incentive to conduct research or develop better solutions to environmental problems.

Problem-driven research should be re-evaluated and re-focused on a regular basis to ensure that the most important problems are being addressed. Unlike core research priorities, which may not change much over time, in the problem-driven area EPA must develop adaptive feedback capabilities to allow it to change directions when new issues arise and old issues are "solved" or judged to pose less risk than expected.

This committee was not asked to, and did not, address issues concerning EPA's research infrastructure, the appropriate balance between internal and external research, mechanisms for peer review, and other research management issues. Recommendations in these areas will be made by the Committee on Research and Peer Review at EPA (see Chapter 1 ). Table 5-1 summarizes recommended

actions that are intended to provide EPA with the knowledge needed to address current and emerging environmental issues.

Good science is essential for sound environmental decision-making. By implementing the recommendations contained in this report, EPA can increase the effectiveness of its research program and thus continue to play an important role in efforts to protect the environment and human health into the next century.

Over the past decades, environmental problems have attracted enormous attention and public concern. Many actions have been taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others to protect human health and ecosystems from particular threats. Despite some successes, many problems remain unsolved and new ones are emerging. Increasing population and related pressures, combined with a realization of the interconnectedness and complexity of environmental systems, present new challenges to policymakers and regulators.

Scientific research has played, and will continue to play, an essential part in solving environmental problems. Decisions based on incorrect or incomplete understanding of environmental systems will not achieve the greatest reduction of risk at the lowest cost.

This volume describes a framework for acquiring the knowledge needed both to solve current recognized problems and to be prepared for the kinds of problems likely to emerge in the future. Many case examples are included to illustrate why some environmental control strategies have succeeded where others have fallen short and how we can do better in the future.

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Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution: A Review

Ioannis manisalidis.

1 Delphis S.A., Kifisia, Greece

2 Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece

Elisavet Stavropoulou

3 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Service de Médicine Interne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Agathangelos Stavropoulos

4 School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Eugenia Bezirtzoglou

One of our era's greatest scourges is air pollution, on account not only of its impact on climate change but also its impact on public and individual health due to increasing morbidity and mortality. There are many pollutants that are major factors in disease in humans. Among them, Particulate Matter (PM), particles of variable but very small diameter, penetrate the respiratory system via inhalation, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, reproductive and central nervous system dysfunctions, and cancer. Despite the fact that ozone in the stratosphere plays a protective role against ultraviolet irradiation, it is harmful when in high concentration at ground level, also affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system. Furthermore, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), dioxins, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are all considered air pollutants that are harmful to humans. Carbon monoxide can even provoke direct poisoning when breathed in at high levels. Heavy metals such as lead, when absorbed into the human body, can lead to direct poisoning or chronic intoxication, depending on exposure. Diseases occurring from the aforementioned substances include principally respiratory problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, bronchiolitis, and also lung cancer, cardiovascular events, central nervous system dysfunctions, and cutaneous diseases. Last but not least, climate change resulting from environmental pollution affects the geographical distribution of many infectious diseases, as do natural disasters. The only way to tackle this problem is through public awareness coupled with a multidisciplinary approach by scientific experts; national and international organizations must address the emergence of this threat and propose sustainable solutions.

Approach to the Problem

The interactions between humans and their physical surroundings have been extensively studied, as multiple human activities influence the environment. The environment is a coupling of the biotic (living organisms and microorganisms) and the abiotic (hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere).

Pollution is defined as the introduction into the environment of substances harmful to humans and other living organisms. Pollutants are harmful solids, liquids, or gases produced in higher than usual concentrations that reduce the quality of our environment.

Human activities have an adverse effect on the environment by polluting the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the soil in which plants grow. Although the industrial revolution was a great success in terms of technology, society, and the provision of multiple services, it also introduced the production of huge quantities of pollutants emitted into the air that are harmful to human health. Without any doubt, the global environmental pollution is considered an international public health issue with multiple facets. Social, economic, and legislative concerns and lifestyle habits are related to this major problem. Clearly, urbanization and industrialization are reaching unprecedented and upsetting proportions worldwide in our era. Anthropogenic air pollution is one of the biggest public health hazards worldwide, given that it accounts for about 9 million deaths per year ( 1 ).

Without a doubt, all of the aforementioned are closely associated with climate change, and in the event of danger, the consequences can be severe for mankind ( 2 ). Climate changes and the effects of global planetary warming seriously affect multiple ecosystems, causing problems such as food safety issues, ice and iceberg melting, animal extinction, and damage to plants ( 3 , 4 ).

Air pollution has various health effects. The health of susceptible and sensitive individuals can be impacted even on low air pollution days. Short-term exposure to air pollutants is closely related to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma, respiratory disease, and high rates of hospitalization (a measurement of morbidity).

The long-term effects associated with air pollution are chronic asthma, pulmonary insufficiency, cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular mortality. According to a Swedish cohort study, diabetes seems to be induced after long-term air pollution exposure ( 5 ). Moreover, air pollution seems to have various malign health effects in early human life, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, mental, and perinatal disorders ( 3 ), leading to infant mortality or chronic disease in adult age ( 6 ).

National reports have mentioned the increased risk of morbidity and mortality ( 1 ). These studies were conducted in many places around the world and show a correlation between daily ranges of particulate matter (PM) concentration and daily mortality. Climate shifts and global planetary warming ( 3 ) could aggravate the situation. Besides, increased hospitalization (an index of morbidity) has been registered among the elderly and susceptible individuals for specific reasons. Fine and ultrafine particulate matter seems to be associated with more serious illnesses ( 6 ), as it can invade the deepest parts of the airways and more easily reach the bloodstream.

Air pollution mainly affects those living in large urban areas, where road emissions contribute the most to the degradation of air quality. There is also a danger of industrial accidents, where the spread of a toxic fog can be fatal to the populations of the surrounding areas. The dispersion of pollutants is determined by many parameters, most notably atmospheric stability and wind ( 6 ).

In developing countries ( 7 ), the problem is more serious due to overpopulation and uncontrolled urbanization along with the development of industrialization. This leads to poor air quality, especially in countries with social disparities and a lack of information on sustainable management of the environment. The use of fuels such as wood fuel or solid fuel for domestic needs due to low incomes exposes people to bad-quality, polluted air at home. It is of note that three billion people around the world are using the above sources of energy for their daily heating and cooking needs ( 8 ). In developing countries, the women of the household seem to carry the highest risk for disease development due to their longer duration exposure to the indoor air pollution ( 8 , 9 ). Due to its fast industrial development and overpopulation, China is one of the Asian countries confronting serious air pollution problems ( 10 , 11 ). The lung cancer mortality observed in China is associated with fine particles ( 12 ). As stated already, long-term exposure is associated with deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system ( 3 , 5 ). However, it is interesting to note that cardiovascular diseases have mostly been observed in developed and high-income countries rather than in the developing low-income countries exposed highly to air pollution ( 13 ). Extreme air pollution is recorded in India, where the air quality reaches hazardous levels. New Delhi is one of the more polluted cities in India. Flights in and out of New Delhi International Airport are often canceled due to the reduced visibility associated with air pollution. Pollution is occurring both in urban and rural areas in India due to the fast industrialization, urbanization, and rise in use of motorcycle transportation. Nevertheless, biomass combustion associated with heating and cooking needs and practices is a major source of household air pollution in India and in Nepal ( 14 , 15 ). There is spatial heterogeneity in India, as areas with diverse climatological conditions and population and education levels generate different indoor air qualities, with higher PM 2.5 observed in North Indian states (557–601 μg/m 3 ) compared to the Southern States (183–214 μg/m 3 ) ( 16 , 17 ). The cold climate of the North Indian areas may be the main reason for this, as longer periods at home and more heating are necessary compared to in the tropical climate of Southern India. Household air pollution in India is associated with major health effects, especially in women and young children, who stay indoors for longer periods. Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (CORD) and lung cancer are mostly observed in women, while acute lower respiratory disease is seen in young children under 5 years of age ( 18 ).

Accumulation of air pollution, especially sulfur dioxide and smoke, reaching 1,500 mg/m3, resulted in an increase in the number of deaths (4,000 deaths) in December 1952 in London and in 1963 in New York City (400 deaths) ( 19 ). An association of pollution with mortality was reported on the basis of monitoring of outdoor pollution in six US metropolitan cities ( 20 ). In every case, it seems that mortality was closely related to the levels of fine, inhalable, and sulfate particles more than with the levels of total particulate pollution, aerosol acidity, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen dioxide ( 20 ).

Furthermore, extremely high levels of pollution are reported in Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, followed by Milan, Ankara, Melbourne, Tokyo, and Moscow ( 19 ).

Based on the magnitude of the public health impact, it is certain that different kinds of interventions should be taken into account. Success and effectiveness in controlling air pollution, specifically at the local level, have been reported. Adequate technological means are applied considering the source and the nature of the emission as well as its impact on health and the environment. The importance of point sources and non-point sources of air pollution control is reported by Schwela and Köth-Jahr ( 21 ). Without a doubt, a detailed emission inventory must record all sources in a given area. Beyond considering the above sources and their nature, topography and meteorology should also be considered, as stated previously. Assessment of the control policies and methods is often extrapolated from the local to the regional and then to the global scale. Air pollution may be dispersed and transported from one region to another area located far away. Air pollution management means the reduction to acceptable levels or possible elimination of air pollutants whose presence in the air affects our health or the environmental ecosystem. Private and governmental entities and authorities implement actions to ensure the air quality ( 22 ). Air quality standards and guidelines were adopted for the different pollutants by the WHO and EPA as a tool for the management of air quality ( 1 , 23 ). These standards have to be compared to the emissions inventory standards by causal analysis and dispersion modeling in order to reveal the problematic areas ( 24 ). Inventories are generally based on a combination of direct measurements and emissions modeling ( 24 ).

As an example, we state here the control measures at the source through the use of catalytic converters in cars. These are devices that turn the pollutants and toxic gases produced from combustion engines into less-toxic pollutants by catalysis through redox reactions ( 25 ). In Greece, the use of private cars was restricted by tracking their license plates in order to reduce traffic congestion during rush hour ( 25 ).

Concerning industrial emissions, collectors and closed systems can keep the air pollution to the minimal standards imposed by legislation ( 26 ).

Current strategies to improve air quality require an estimation of the economic value of the benefits gained from proposed programs. These proposed programs by public authorities, and directives are issued with guidelines to be respected.

In Europe, air quality limit values AQLVs (Air Quality Limit Values) are issued for setting off planning claims ( 27 ). In the USA, the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) establish the national air quality limit values ( 27 ). While both standards and directives are based on different mechanisms, significant success has been achieved in the reduction of overall emissions and associated health and environmental effects ( 27 ). The European Directive identifies geographical areas of risk exposure as monitoring/assessment zones to record the emission sources and levels of air pollution ( 27 ), whereas the USA establishes global geographical air quality criteria according to the severity of their air quality problem and records all sources of the pollutants and their precursors ( 27 ).

In this vein, funds have been financing, directly or indirectly, projects related to air quality along with the technical infrastructure to maintain good air quality. These plans focus on an inventory of databases from air quality environmental planning awareness campaigns. Moreover, pollution measures of air emissions may be taken for vehicles, machines, and industries in urban areas.

Technological innovation can only be successful if it is able to meet the needs of society. In this sense, technology must reflect the decision-making practices and procedures of those involved in risk assessment and evaluation and act as a facilitator in providing information and assessments to enable decision makers to make the best decisions possible. Summarizing the aforementioned in order to design an effective air quality control strategy, several aspects must be considered: environmental factors and ambient air quality conditions, engineering factors and air pollutant characteristics, and finally, economic operating costs for technological improvement and administrative and legal costs. Considering the economic factor, competitiveness through neoliberal concepts is offering a solution to environmental problems ( 22 ).

The development of environmental governance, along with technological progress, has initiated the deployment of a dialogue. Environmental politics has created objections and points of opposition between different political parties, scientists, media, and governmental and non-governmental organizations ( 22 ). Radical environmental activism actions and movements have been created ( 22 ). The rise of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are many times examined as to whether and in which way they have influenced means of communication and social movements such as activism ( 28 ). Since the 1990s, the term “digital activism” has been used increasingly and in many different disciplines ( 29 ). Nowadays, multiple digital technologies can be used to produce a digital activism outcome on environmental issues. More specifically, devices with online capabilities such as computers or mobile phones are being used as a way to pursue change in political and social affairs ( 30 ).

In the present paper, we focus on the sources of environmental pollution in relation to public health and propose some solutions and interventions that may be of interest to environmental legislators and decision makers.

Sources of Exposure

It is known that the majority of environmental pollutants are emitted through large-scale human activities such as the use of industrial machinery, power-producing stations, combustion engines, and cars. Because these activities are performed at such a large scale, they are by far the major contributors to air pollution, with cars estimated to be responsible for approximately 80% of today's pollution ( 31 ). Some other human activities are also influencing our environment to a lesser extent, such as field cultivation techniques, gas stations, fuel tanks heaters, and cleaning procedures ( 32 ), as well as several natural sources, such as volcanic and soil eruptions and forest fires.

The classification of air pollutants is based mainly on the sources producing pollution. Therefore, it is worth mentioning the four main sources, following the classification system: Major sources, Area sources, Mobile sources, and Natural sources.

Major sources include the emission of pollutants from power stations, refineries, and petrochemicals, the chemical and fertilizer industries, metallurgical and other industrial plants, and, finally, municipal incineration.

Indoor area sources include domestic cleaning activities, dry cleaners, printing shops, and petrol stations.

Mobile sources include automobiles, cars, railways, airways, and other types of vehicles.

Finally, natural sources include, as stated previously, physical disasters ( 33 ) such as forest fire, volcanic erosion, dust storms, and agricultural burning.

However, many classification systems have been proposed. Another type of classification is a grouping according to the recipient of the pollution, as follows:

Air pollution is determined as the presence of pollutants in the air in large quantities for long periods. Air pollutants are dispersed particles, hydrocarbons, CO, CO 2 , NO, NO 2 , SO 3 , etc.

Water pollution is organic and inorganic charge and biological charge ( 10 ) at high levels that affect the water quality ( 34 , 35 ).

Soil pollution occurs through the release of chemicals or the disposal of wastes, such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides.

Air pollution can influence the quality of soil and water bodies by polluting precipitation, falling into water and soil environments ( 34 , 36 ). Notably, the chemistry of the soil can be amended due to acid precipitation by affecting plants, cultures, and water quality ( 37 ). Moreover, movement of heavy metals is favored by soil acidity, and metals are so then moving into the watery environment. It is known that heavy metals such as aluminum are noxious to wildlife and fishes. Soil quality seems to be of importance, as soils with low calcium carbonate levels are at increased jeopardy from acid rain. Over and above rain, snow and particulate matter drip into watery ' bodies ( 36 , 38 ).

Lastly, pollution is classified following type of origin:

Radioactive and nuclear pollution , releasing radioactive and nuclear pollutants into water, air, and soil during nuclear explosions and accidents, from nuclear weapons, and through handling or disposal of radioactive sewage.

Radioactive materials can contaminate surface water bodies and, being noxious to the environment, plants, animals, and humans. It is known that several radioactive substances such as radium and uranium concentrate in the bones and can cause cancers ( 38 , 39 ).

Noise pollution is produced by machines, vehicles, traffic noises, and musical installations that are harmful to our hearing.

The World Health Organization introduced the term DALYs. The DALYs for a disease or health condition is defined as the sum of the Years of Life Lost (YLL) due to premature mortality in the population and the Years Lost due to Disability (YLD) for people living with the health condition or its consequences ( 39 ). In Europe, air pollution is the main cause of disability-adjusted life years lost (DALYs), followed by noise pollution. The potential relationships of noise and air pollution with health have been studied ( 40 ). The study found that DALYs related to noise were more important than those related to air pollution, as the effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular disease were independent of air pollution ( 40 ). Environmental noise should be counted as an independent public health risk ( 40 ).

Environmental pollution occurs when changes in the physical, chemical, or biological constituents of the environment (air masses, temperature, climate, etc.) are produced.

Pollutants harm our environment either by increasing levels above normal or by introducing harmful toxic substances. Primary pollutants are directly produced from the above sources, and secondary pollutants are emitted as by-products of the primary ones. Pollutants can be biodegradable or non-biodegradable and of natural origin or anthropogenic, as stated previously. Moreover, their origin can be a unique source (point-source) or dispersed sources.

Pollutants have differences in physical and chemical properties, explaining the discrepancy in their capacity for producing toxic effects. As an example, we state here that aerosol compounds ( 41 – 43 ) have a greater toxicity than gaseous compounds due to their tiny size (solid or liquid) in the atmosphere; they have a greater penetration capacity. Gaseous compounds are eliminated more easily by our respiratory system ( 41 ). These particles are able to damage lungs and can even enter the bloodstream ( 41 ), leading to the premature deaths of millions of people yearly. Moreover, the aerosol acidity ([H+]) seems to considerably enhance the production of secondary organic aerosols (SOA), but this last aspect is not supported by other scientific teams ( 38 ).

Climate and Pollution

Air pollution and climate change are closely related. Climate is the other side of the same coin that reduces the quality of our Earth ( 44 ). Pollutants such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and aerosols affect the amount of incoming sunlight. As a result, the temperature of the Earth is increasing, resulting in the melting of ice, icebergs, and glaciers.

In this vein, climatic changes will affect the incidence and prevalence of both residual and imported infections in Europe. Climate and weather affect the duration, timing, and intensity of outbreaks strongly and change the map of infectious diseases in the globe ( 45 ). Mosquito-transmitted parasitic or viral diseases are extremely climate-sensitive, as warming firstly shortens the pathogen incubation period and secondly shifts the geographic map of the vector. Similarly, water-warming following climate changes leads to a high incidence of waterborne infections. Recently, in Europe, eradicated diseases seem to be emerging due to the migration of population, for example, cholera, poliomyelitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and malaria ( 46 ).

The spread of epidemics is associated with natural climate disasters and storms, which seem to occur more frequently nowadays ( 47 ). Malnutrition and disequilibration of the immune system are also associated with the emerging infections affecting public health ( 48 ).

The Chikungunya virus “took the airplane” from the Indian Ocean to Europe, as outbreaks of the disease were registered in Italy ( 49 ) as well as autochthonous cases in France ( 50 ).

An increase in cryptosporidiosis in the United Kingdom and in the Czech Republic seems to have occurred following flooding ( 36 , 51 ).

As stated previously, aerosols compounds are tiny in size and considerably affect the climate. They are able to dissipate sunlight (the albedo phenomenon) by dispersing a quarter of the sun's rays back to space and have cooled the global temperature over the last 30 years ( 52 ).

Air Pollutants

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports on six major air pollutants, namely particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead. Air pollution can have a disastrous effect on all components of the environment, including groundwater, soil, and air. Additionally, it poses a serious threat to living organisms. In this vein, our interest is mainly to focus on these pollutants, as they are related to more extensive and severe problems in human health and environmental impact. Acid rain, global warming, the greenhouse effect, and climate changes have an important ecological impact on air pollution ( 53 ).

Particulate Matter (PM) and Health

Studies have shown a relationship between particulate matter (PM) and adverse health effects, focusing on either short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) PM exposure.

Particulate matter (PM) is usually formed in the atmosphere as a result of chemical reactions between the different pollutants. The penetration of particles is closely dependent on their size ( 53 ). Particulate Matter (PM) was defined as a term for particles by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ( 54 ). Particulate matter (PM) pollution includes particles with diameters of 10 micrometers (μm) or smaller, called PM 10 , and extremely fine particles with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers (μm) and smaller.

Particulate matter contains tiny liquid or solid droplets that can be inhaled and cause serious health effects ( 55 ). Particles <10 μm in diameter (PM 10 ) after inhalation can invade the lungs and even reach the bloodstream. Fine particles, PM 2.5 , pose a greater risk to health ( 6 , 56 ) ( Table 1 ).

Penetrability according to particle size.

Multiple epidemiological studies have been performed on the health effects of PM. A positive relation was shown between both short-term and long-term exposures of PM 2.5 and acute nasopharyngitis ( 56 ). In addition, long-term exposure to PM for years was found to be related to cardiovascular diseases and infant mortality.

Those studies depend on PM 2.5 monitors and are restricted in terms of study area or city area due to a lack of spatially resolved daily PM 2.5 concentration data and, in this way, are not representative of the entire population. Following a recent epidemiological study by the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health (Boston, MA) ( 57 ), it was reported that, as PM 2.5 concentrations vary spatially, an exposure error (Berkson error) seems to be produced, and the relative magnitudes of the short- and long-term effects are not yet completely elucidated. The team developed a PM 2.5 exposure model based on remote sensing data for assessing short- and long-term human exposures ( 57 ). This model permits spatial resolution in short-term effects plus the assessment of long-term effects in the whole population.

Moreover, respiratory diseases and affection of the immune system are registered as long-term chronic effects ( 58 ). It is worth noting that people with asthma, pneumonia, diabetes, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are especially susceptible and vulnerable to the effects of PM. PM 2.5 , followed by PM 10 , are strongly associated with diverse respiratory system diseases ( 59 ), as their size permits them to pierce interior spaces ( 60 ). The particles produce toxic effects according to their chemical and physical properties. The components of PM 10 and PM 2.5 can be organic (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, benzene, 1-3 butadiene) or inorganic (carbon, chlorides, nitrates, sulfates, metals) in nature ( 55 ).

Particulate Matter (PM) is divided into four main categories according to type and size ( 61 ) ( Table 2 ).

Types and sizes of particulate Matter (PM).

Gas contaminants include PM in aerial masses.

Particulate contaminants include contaminants such as smog, soot, tobacco smoke, oil smoke, fly ash, and cement dust.

Biological Contaminants are microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, and bacterial spores), cat allergens, house dust and allergens, and pollen.

Types of Dust include suspended atmospheric dust, settling dust, and heavy dust.

Finally, another fact is that the half-lives of PM 10 and PM 2.5 particles in the atmosphere is extended due to their tiny dimensions; this permits their long-lasting suspension in the atmosphere and even their transfer and spread to distant destinations where people and the environment may be exposed to the same magnitude of pollution ( 53 ). They are able to change the nutrient balance in watery ecosystems, damage forests and crops, and acidify water bodies.

As stated, PM 2.5 , due to their tiny size, are causing more serious health effects. These aforementioned fine particles are the main cause of the “haze” formation in different metropolitan areas ( 12 , 13 , 61 ).

Ozone Impact in the Atmosphere

Ozone (O 3 ) is a gas formed from oxygen under high voltage electric discharge ( 62 ). It is a strong oxidant, 52% stronger than chlorine. It arises in the stratosphere, but it could also arise following chain reactions of photochemical smog in the troposphere ( 63 ).

Ozone can travel to distant areas from its initial source, moving with air masses ( 64 ). It is surprising that ozone levels over cities are low in contrast to the increased amounts occuring in urban areas, which could become harmful for cultures, forests, and vegetation ( 65 ) as it is reducing carbon assimilation ( 66 ). Ozone reduces growth and yield ( 47 , 48 ) and affects the plant microflora due to its antimicrobial capacity ( 67 , 68 ). In this regard, ozone acts upon other natural ecosystems, with microflora ( 69 , 70 ) and animal species changing their species composition ( 71 ). Ozone increases DNA damage in epidermal keratinocytes and leads to impaired cellular function ( 72 ).

Ground-level ozone (GLO) is generated through a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and VOCs emitted from natural sources and/or following anthropogenic activities.

Ozone uptake usually occurs by inhalation. Ozone affects the upper layers of the skin and the tear ducts ( 73 ). A study of short-term exposure of mice to high levels of ozone showed malondialdehyde formation in the upper skin (epidermis) but also depletion in vitamins C and E. It is likely that ozone levels are not interfering with the skin barrier function and integrity to predispose to skin disease ( 74 ).

Due to the low water-solubility of ozone, inhaled ozone has the capacity to penetrate deeply into the lungs ( 75 ).

Toxic effects induced by ozone are registered in urban areas all over the world, causing biochemical, morphologic, functional, and immunological disorders ( 76 ).

The European project (APHEA2) focuses on the acute effects of ambient ozone concentrations on mortality ( 77 ). Daily ozone concentrations compared to the daily number of deaths were reported from different European cities for a 3-year period. During the warm period of the year, an observed increase in ozone concentration was associated with an increase in the daily number of deaths (0.33%), in the number of respiratory deaths (1.13%), and in the number of cardiovascular deaths (0.45%). No effect was observed during wintertime.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide is produced by fossil fuel when combustion is incomplete. The symptoms of poisoning due to inhaling carbon monoxide include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and, finally, loss of consciousness.

The affinity of carbon monoxide to hemoglobin is much greater than that of oxygen. In this vein, serious poisoning may occur in people exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide for a long period of time. Due to the loss of oxygen as a result of the competitive binding of carbon monoxide, hypoxia, ischemia, and cardiovascular disease are observed.

Carbon monoxide affects the greenhouses gases that are tightly connected to global warming and climate. This should lead to an increase in soil and water temperatures, and extreme weather conditions or storms may occur ( 68 ).

However, in laboratory and field experiments, it has been seen to produce increased plant growth ( 78 ).

Nitrogen Oxide (NO 2 )

Nitrogen oxide is a traffic-related pollutant, as it is emitted from automobile motor engines ( 79 , 80 ). It is an irritant of the respiratory system as it penetrates deep in the lung, inducing respiratory diseases, coughing, wheezing, dyspnea, bronchospasm, and even pulmonary edema when inhaled at high levels. It seems that concentrations over 0.2 ppm produce these adverse effects in humans, while concentrations higher than 2.0 ppm affect T-lymphocytes, particularly the CD8+ cells and NK cells that produce our immune response ( 81 ).It is reported that long-term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can be responsible for chronic lung disease. Long-term exposure to NO 2 can impair the sense of smell ( 81 ).

However, systems other than respiratory ones can be involved, as symptoms such as eye, throat, and nose irritation have been registered ( 81 ).

High levels of nitrogen dioxide are deleterious to crops and vegetation, as they have been observed to reduce crop yield and plant growth efficiency. Moreover, NO 2 can reduce visibility and discolor fabrics ( 81 ).

Sulfur Dioxide (SO 2 )

Sulfur dioxide is a harmful gas that is emitted mainly from fossil fuel consumption or industrial activities. The annual standard for SO 2 is 0.03 ppm ( 82 ). It affects human, animal, and plant life. Susceptible people as those with lung disease, old people, and children, who present a higher risk of damage. The major health problems associated with sulfur dioxide emissions in industrialized areas are respiratory irritation, bronchitis, mucus production, and bronchospasm, as it is a sensory irritant and penetrates deep into the lung converted into bisulfite and interacting with sensory receptors, causing bronchoconstriction. Moreover, skin redness, damage to the eyes (lacrimation and corneal opacity) and mucous membranes, and worsening of pre-existing cardiovascular disease have been observed ( 81 ).

Environmental adverse effects, such as acidification of soil and acid rain, seem to be associated with sulfur dioxide emissions ( 83 ).

Lead is a heavy metal used in different industrial plants and emitted from some petrol motor engines, batteries, radiators, waste incinerators, and waste waters ( 84 ).

Moreover, major sources of lead pollution in the air are metals, ore, and piston-engine aircraft. Lead poisoning is a threat to public health due to its deleterious effects upon humans, animals, and the environment, especially in the developing countries.

Exposure to lead can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption. Trans- placental transport of lead was also reported, as lead passes through the placenta unencumbered ( 85 ). The younger the fetus is, the more harmful the toxic effects. Lead toxicity affects the fetal nervous system; edema or swelling of the brain is observed ( 86 ). Lead, when inhaled, accumulates in the blood, soft tissue, liver, lung, bones, and cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive systems. Moreover, loss of concentration and memory, as well as muscle and joint pain, were observed in adults ( 85 , 86 ).

Children and newborns ( 87 ) are extremely susceptible even to minimal doses of lead, as it is a neurotoxicant and causes learning disabilities, impairment of memory, hyperactivity, and even mental retardation.

Elevated amounts of lead in the environment are harmful to plants and crop growth. Neurological effects are observed in vertebrates and animals in association with high lead levels ( 88 ).

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAHs)

The distribution of PAHs is ubiquitous in the environment, as the atmosphere is the most important means of their dispersal. They are found in coal and in tar sediments. Moreover, they are generated through incomplete combustion of organic matter as in the cases of forest fires, incineration, and engines ( 89 ). PAH compounds, such as benzopyrene, acenaphthylene, anthracene, and fluoranthene are recognized as toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic substances. They are an important risk factor for lung cancer ( 89 ).

Volatile Organic Compounds(VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as toluene, benzene, ethylbenzene, and xylene ( 90 ), have been found to be associated with cancer in humans ( 91 ). The use of new products and materials has actually resulted in increased concentrations of VOCs. VOCs pollute indoor air ( 90 ) and may have adverse effects on human health ( 91 ). Short-term and long-term adverse effects on human health are observed. VOCs are responsible for indoor air smells. Short-term exposure is found to cause irritation of eyes, nose, throat, and mucosal membranes, while those of long duration exposure include toxic reactions ( 92 ). Predictable assessment of the toxic effects of complex VOC mixtures is difficult to estimate, as these pollutants can have synergic, antagonistic, or indifferent effects ( 91 , 93 ).

Dioxins originate from industrial processes but also come from natural processes, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions. They accumulate in foods such as meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish, and especially in the fatty tissue of animals ( 94 ).

Short-period exhibition to high dioxin concentrations may result in dark spots and lesions on the skin ( 94 ). Long-term exposure to dioxins can cause developmental problems, impairment of the immune, endocrine and nervous systems, reproductive infertility, and cancer ( 94 ).

Without any doubt, fossil fuel consumption is responsible for a sizeable part of air contamination. This contamination may be anthropogenic, as in agricultural and industrial processes or transportation, while contamination from natural sources is also possible. Interestingly, it is of note that the air quality standards established through the European Air Quality Directive are somewhat looser than the WHO guidelines, which are stricter ( 95 ).

Effect of Air Pollution on Health

The most common air pollutants are ground-level ozone and Particulates Matter (PM). Air pollution is distinguished into two main types:

Outdoor pollution is the ambient air pollution.

Indoor pollution is the pollution generated by household combustion of fuels.

People exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants experience disease symptoms and states of greater and lesser seriousness. These effects are grouped into short- and long-term effects affecting health.

Susceptible populations that need to be aware of health protection measures include old people, children, and people with diabetes and predisposing heart or lung disease, especially asthma.

As extensively stated previously, according to a recent epidemiological study from Harvard School of Public Health, the relative magnitudes of the short- and long-term effects have not been completely clarified ( 57 ) due to the different epidemiological methodologies and to the exposure errors. New models are proposed for assessing short- and long-term human exposure data more successfully ( 57 ). Thus, in the present section, we report the more common short- and long-term health effects but also general concerns for both types of effects, as these effects are often dependent on environmental conditions, dose, and individual susceptibility.

Short-term effects are temporary and range from simple discomfort, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, skin, throat, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness, and breathing difficulties, to more serious states, such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung and heart problems. Short-term exposure to air pollution can also cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

These problems can be aggravated by extended long-term exposure to the pollutants, which is harmful to the neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems and causes cancer and even, rarely, deaths.

The long-term effects are chronic, lasting for years or the whole life and can even lead to death. Furthermore, the toxicity of several air pollutants may also induce a variety of cancers in the long term ( 96 ).

As stated already, respiratory disorders are closely associated with the inhalation of air pollutants. These pollutants will invade through the airways and will accumulate at the cells. Damage to target cells should be related to the pollutant component involved and its source and dose. Health effects are also closely dependent on country, area, season, and time. An extended exposure duration to the pollutant should incline to long-term health effects in relation also to the above factors.

Particulate Matter (PMs), dust, benzene, and O 3 cause serious damage to the respiratory system ( 97 ). Moreover, there is a supplementary risk in case of existing respiratory disease such as asthma ( 98 ). Long-term effects are more frequent in people with a predisposing disease state. When the trachea is contaminated by pollutants, voice alterations may be remarked after acute exposure. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be induced following air pollution, increasing morbidity and mortality ( 99 ). Long-term effects from traffic, industrial air pollution, and combustion of fuels are the major factors for COPD risk ( 99 ).

Multiple cardiovascular effects have been observed after exposure to air pollutants ( 100 ). Changes occurred in blood cells after long-term exposure may affect cardiac functionality. Coronary arteriosclerosis was reported following long-term exposure to traffic emissions ( 101 ), while short-term exposure is related to hypertension, stroke, myocardial infracts, and heart insufficiency. Ventricle hypertrophy is reported to occur in humans after long-time exposure to nitrogen oxide (NO 2 ) ( 102 , 103 ).

Neurological effects have been observed in adults and children after extended-term exposure to air pollutants.

Psychological complications, autism, retinopathy, fetal growth, and low birth weight seem to be related to long-term air pollution ( 83 ). The etiologic agent of the neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) is not yet known, although it is believed that extended exposure to air pollution seems to be a factor. Specifically, pesticides and metals are cited as etiological factors, together with diet. The mechanisms in the development of neurodegenerative disease include oxidative stress, protein aggregation, inflammation, and mitochondrial impairment in neurons ( 104 ) ( Figure 1 ).

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Impact of air pollutants on the brain.

Brain inflammation was observed in dogs living in a highly polluted area in Mexico for a long period ( 105 ). In human adults, markers of systemic inflammation (IL-6 and fibrinogen) were found to be increased as an immediate response to PNC on the IL-6 level, possibly leading to the production of acute-phase proteins ( 106 ). The progression of atherosclerosis and oxidative stress seem to be the mechanisms involved in the neurological disturbances caused by long-term air pollution. Inflammation comes secondary to the oxidative stress and seems to be involved in the impairment of developmental maturation, affecting multiple organs ( 105 , 107 ). Similarly, other factors seem to be involved in the developmental maturation, which define the vulnerability to long-term air pollution. These include birthweight, maternal smoking, genetic background and socioeconomic environment, as well as education level.

However, diet, starting from breast-feeding, is another determinant factor. Diet is the main source of antioxidants, which play a key role in our protection against air pollutants ( 108 ). Antioxidants are free radical scavengers and limit the interaction of free radicals in the brain ( 108 ). Similarly, genetic background may result in a differential susceptibility toward the oxidative stress pathway ( 60 ). For example, antioxidant supplementation with vitamins C and E appears to modulate the effect of ozone in asthmatic children homozygous for the GSTM1 null allele ( 61 ). Inflammatory cytokines released in the periphery (e.g., respiratory epithelia) upregulate the innate immune Toll-like receptor 2. Such activation and the subsequent events leading to neurodegeneration have recently been observed in lung lavage in mice exposed to ambient Los Angeles (CA, USA) particulate matter ( 61 ). In children, neurodevelopmental morbidities were observed after lead exposure. These children developed aggressive and delinquent behavior, reduced intelligence, learning difficulties, and hyperactivity ( 109 ). No level of lead exposure seems to be “safe,” and the scientific community has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the current screening guideline of 10 μg/dl ( 109 ).

It is important to state that impact on the immune system, causing dysfunction and neuroinflammation ( 104 ), is related to poor air quality. Yet, increases in serum levels of immunoglobulins (IgA, IgM) and the complement component C3 are observed ( 106 ). Another issue is that antigen presentation is affected by air pollutants, as there is an upregulation of costimulatory molecules such as CD80 and CD86 on macrophages ( 110 ).

As is known, skin is our shield against ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and other pollutants, as it is the most exterior layer of our body. Traffic-related pollutants, such as PAHs, VOCs, oxides, and PM, may cause pigmented spots on our skin ( 111 ). On the one hand, as already stated, when pollutants penetrate through the skin or are inhaled, damage to the organs is observed, as some of these pollutants are mutagenic and carcinogenic, and, specifically, they affect the liver and lung. On the other hand, air pollutants (and those in the troposphere) reduce the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation UVR in polluted urban areas ( 111 ). Air pollutants absorbed by the human skin may contribute to skin aging, psoriasis, acne, urticaria, eczema, and atopic dermatitis ( 111 ), usually caused by exposure to oxides and photochemical smoke ( 111 ). Exposure to PM and cigarette smoking act as skin-aging agents, causing spots, dyschromia, and wrinkles. Lastly, pollutants have been associated with skin cancer ( 111 ).

Higher morbidity is reported to fetuses and children when exposed to the above dangers. Impairment in fetal growth, low birth weight, and autism have been reported ( 112 ).

Another exterior organ that may be affected is the eye. Contamination usually comes from suspended pollutants and may result in asymptomatic eye outcomes, irritation ( 112 ), retinopathy, or dry eye syndrome ( 113 , 114 ).

Environmental Impact of Air Pollution

Air pollution is harming not only human health but also the environment ( 115 ) in which we live. The most important environmental effects are as follows.

Acid rain is wet (rain, fog, snow) or dry (particulates and gas) precipitation containing toxic amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. They are able to acidify the water and soil environments, damage trees and plantations, and even damage buildings and outdoor sculptures, constructions, and statues.

Haze is produced when fine particles are dispersed in the air and reduce the transparency of the atmosphere. It is caused by gas emissions in the air coming from industrial facilities, power plants, automobiles, and trucks.

Ozone , as discussed previously, occurs both at ground level and in the upper level (stratosphere) of the Earth's atmosphere. Stratospheric ozone is protecting us from the Sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. In contrast, ground-level ozone is harmful to human health and is a pollutant. Unfortunately, stratospheric ozone is gradually damaged by ozone-depleting substances (i.e., chemicals, pesticides, and aerosols). If this protecting stratospheric ozone layer is thinned, then UV radiation can reach our Earth, with harmful effects for human life (skin cancer) ( 116 ) and crops ( 117 ). In plants, ozone penetrates through the stomata, inducing them to close, which blocks CO 2 transfer and induces a reduction in photosynthesis ( 118 ).

Global climate change is an important issue that concerns mankind. As is known, the “greenhouse effect” keeps the Earth's temperature stable. Unhappily, anthropogenic activities have destroyed this protecting temperature effect by producing large amounts of greenhouse gases, and global warming is mounting, with harmful effects on human health, animals, forests, wildlife, agriculture, and the water environment. A report states that global warming is adding to the health risks of poor people ( 119 ).

People living in poorly constructed buildings in warm-climate countries are at high risk for heat-related health problems as temperatures mount ( 119 ).

Wildlife is burdened by toxic pollutants coming from the air, soil, or the water ecosystem and, in this way, animals can develop health problems when exposed to high levels of pollutants. Reproductive failure and birth effects have been reported.

Eutrophication is occurring when elevated concentrations of nutrients (especially nitrogen) stimulate the blooming of aquatic algae, which can cause a disequilibration in the diversity of fish and their deaths.

Without a doubt, there is a critical concentration of pollution that an ecosystem can tolerate without being destroyed, which is associated with the ecosystem's capacity to neutralize acidity. The Canada Acid Rain Program established this load at 20 kg/ha/yr ( 120 ).

Hence, air pollution has deleterious effects on both soil and water ( 121 ). Concerning PM as an air pollutant, its impact on crop yield and food productivity has been reported. Its impact on watery bodies is associated with the survival of living organisms and fishes and their productivity potential ( 121 ).

An impairment in photosynthetic rhythm and metabolism is observed in plants exposed to the effects of ozone ( 121 ).

Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are involved in the formation of acid rain and are harmful to plants and marine organisms.

Last but not least, as mentioned above, the toxicity associated with lead and other metals is the main threat to our ecosystems (air, water, and soil) and living creatures ( 121 ).

In 2018, during the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, the WHO's General Director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called air pollution a “silent public health emergency” and “the new tobacco” ( 122 ).

Undoubtedly, children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, especially during their development. Air pollution has adverse effects on our lives in many different respects.

Diseases associated with air pollution have not only an important economic impact but also a societal impact due to absences from productive work and school.

Despite the difficulty of eradicating the problem of anthropogenic environmental pollution, a successful solution could be envisaged as a tight collaboration of authorities, bodies, and doctors to regularize the situation. Governments should spread sufficient information and educate people and should involve professionals in these issues so as to control the emergence of the problem successfully.

Technologies to reduce air pollution at the source must be established and should be used in all industries and power plants. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 set as a major target the reduction of GHG emissions to below 5% by 2012 ( 123 ). This was followed by the Copenhagen summit, 2009 ( 124 ), and then the Durban summit of 2011 ( 125 ), where it was decided to keep to the same line of action. The Kyoto protocol and the subsequent ones were ratified by many countries. Among the pioneers who adopted this important protocol for the world's environmental and climate “health” was China ( 3 ). As is known, China is a fast-developing economy and its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is expected to be very high by 2050, which is defined as the year of dissolution of the protocol for the decrease in gas emissions.

A more recent international agreement of crucial importance for climate change is the Paris Agreement of 2015, issued by the UNFCCC (United Nations Climate Change Committee). This latest agreement was ratified by a plethora of UN (United Nations) countries as well as the countries of the European Union ( 126 ). In this vein, parties should promote actions and measures to enhance numerous aspects around the subject. Boosting education, training, public awareness, and public participation are some of the relevant actions for maximizing the opportunities to achieve the targets and goals on the crucial matter of climate change and environmental pollution ( 126 ). Without any doubt, technological improvements makes our world easier and it seems difficult to reduce the harmful impact caused by gas emissions, we could limit its use by seeking reliable approaches.

Synopsizing, a global prevention policy should be designed in order to combat anthropogenic air pollution as a complement to the correct handling of the adverse health effects associated with air pollution. Sustainable development practices should be applied, together with information coming from research in order to handle the problem effectively.

At this point, international cooperation in terms of research, development, administration policy, monitoring, and politics is vital for effective pollution control. Legislation concerning air pollution must be aligned and updated, and policy makers should propose the design of a powerful tool of environmental and health protection. As a result, the main proposal of this essay is that we should focus on fostering local structures to promote experience and practice and extrapolate these to the international level through developing effective policies for sustainable management of ecosystems.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest

IM is employed by the company Delphis S.A. The remaining authors declare that the present review paper was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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What Is Air Pollution?

What causes air pollution, effects of air pollution, air pollution in the united states, air pollution and environmental justice, controlling air pollution, how to help reduce air pollution, how to protect your health.

Air pollution  refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. According to the  World Health Organization (WHO) , each year, indoor and outdoor air pollution is responsible for nearly seven million deaths around the globe. Ninety-nine percent of human beings currently breathe air that exceeds the WHO’s guideline limits for pollutants, with those living in low- and middle-income countries suffering the most. In the United States, the  Clean Air Act , established in 1970, authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard public health by regulating the emissions of these harmful air pollutants.

“Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,” says  John Walke , director of the Clean Air team at NRDC. Driving a car on gasoline, heating a home with oil, running a power plant on  fracked gas : In each case, a fossil fuel is burned and harmful chemicals and gases are released into the air.

“We’ve made progress over the last 50 years in improving air quality in the United States, thanks to the Clean Air Act. But climate change will make it harder in the future to meet pollution standards, which are designed to  protect health ,” says Walke.

Air pollution is now the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for early death. According to the 2020  State of Global Air  report —which summarizes the latest scientific understanding of air pollution around the world—4.5 million deaths were linked to outdoor air pollution exposures in 2019, and another 2.2 million deaths were caused by indoor air pollution. The world’s most populous countries, China and India, continue to bear the highest burdens of disease.

“Despite improvements in reducing global average mortality rates from air pollution, this report also serves as a sobering reminder that the climate crisis threatens to worsen air pollution problems significantly,” explains  Vijay Limaye , senior scientist in NRDC’s Science Office. Smog, for instance, is intensified by increased heat, forming when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation. In addition, climate change increases the production of allergenic air pollutants, including mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season). “Climate change–fueled droughts and dry conditions are also setting the stage for dangerous wildfires,” adds Limaye. “ Wildfire smoke can linger for days and pollute the air with particulate matter hundreds of miles downwind.”

The effects of air pollution on the human body vary, depending on the type of pollutant, the length and level of exposure, and other factors, including a person’s individual health risks and the cumulative impacts of multiple pollutants or stressors.

Smog and soot

These are the two most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog (sometimes referred to as ground-level ozone) occurs when emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot—a type of  particulate matter —is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or allergens that are carried in the air. The sources of smog and soot are similar. “Both come from cars and trucks, factories, power plants, incinerators, engines, generally anything that combusts fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, or natural gas,” Walke says.

Smog can irritate the eyes and throat and also damage the lungs, especially those of children, senior citizens, and people who work or exercise outdoors. It’s even worse for people who have asthma or allergies; these extra pollutants can intensify their symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. The tiniest airborne particles in soot are especially dangerous because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death. In  2020, a report from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that COVID-19 mortality rates were higher in areas with more particulate matter pollution than in areas with even slightly less, showing a correlation between the virus’s deadliness and long-term exposure to air pollution. 

These findings also illuminate an important  environmental justice issue . Because highways and polluting facilities have historically been sited in or next to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, the negative effects of this pollution have been  disproportionately experienced by the people who live in these communities.

Hazardous air pollutants

A number of air pollutants pose severe health risks and can sometimes be fatal, even in small amounts. Almost 200 of them are regulated by law; some of the most common are mercury,  lead , dioxins, and benzene. “These are also most often emitted during gas or coal combustion, incineration, or—in the case of benzene—found in gasoline,” Walke says. Benzene, classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation in the short term and blood disorders in the long term. Dioxins, more typically found in food but also present in small amounts in the air, is another carcinogen that can affect the liver in the short term and harm the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as reproductive functions.  Mercury  attacks the central nervous system. In large amounts, lead can damage children’s brains and kidneys, and even minimal exposure can affect children’s IQ and ability to learn.

Another category of toxic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are by-products of traffic exhaust and wildfire smoke. In large amounts, they have been linked to eye and lung irritation, blood and liver issues, and even cancer.  In one study , the children of mothers exposed to PAHs during pregnancy showed slower brain-processing speeds and more pronounced symptoms of ADHD.

Greenhouse gases

While these climate pollutants don’t have the direct or immediate impacts on the human body associated with other air pollutants, like smog or hazardous chemicals, they are still harmful to our health. By trapping the earth’s heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases lead to warmer temperatures, which in turn lead to the hallmarks of climate change: rising sea levels, more extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and the increased transmission of infectious diseases. In 2021, carbon dioxide accounted for roughly 79 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and methane made up more than 11 percent. “Carbon dioxide comes from combusting fossil fuels, and methane comes from natural and industrial sources, including large amounts that are released during oil and gas drilling,” Walke says. “We emit far larger amounts of carbon dioxide, but methane is significantly more potent, so it’s also very destructive.” 

Another class of greenhouse gases,  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) , are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in their ability to trap heat. In October 2016, more than 140 countries signed the Kigali Agreement to reduce the use of these chemicals—which are found in air conditioners and refrigerators—and develop greener alternatives over time. (The United States officially signed onto the  Kigali Agreement in 2022.)

Pollen and mold

Mold and allergens from trees, weeds, and grass are also carried in the air, are exacerbated by climate change, and can be hazardous to health. Though they aren’t regulated, they can be considered a form of air pollution. “When homes, schools, or businesses get water damage, mold can grow and produce allergenic airborne pollutants,” says Kim Knowlton, professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and a former NRDC scientist. “ Mold exposure can precipitate asthma attacks  or an allergic response, and some molds can even produce toxins that would be dangerous for anyone to inhale.”

Pollen allergies are worsening  because of climate change . “Lab and field studies are showing that pollen-producing plants—especially ragweed—grow larger and produce more pollen when you increase the amount of carbon dioxide that they grow in,” Knowlton says. “Climate change also extends the pollen production season, and some studies are beginning to suggest that ragweed pollen itself might be becoming a more potent allergen.” If so, more people will suffer runny noses, fevers, itchy eyes, and other symptoms. “And for people with allergies and asthma, pollen peaks can precipitate asthma attacks, which are far more serious and can be life-threatening.”

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More than one in three U.S. residents—120 million people—live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the  2023  State of the Air  report by the American Lung Association (ALA). Since the annual report was first published, in 2000, its findings have shown how the Clean Air Act has been able to reduce harmful emissions from transportation, power plants, and manufacturing.

Recent findings, however, reflect how climate change–fueled wildfires and extreme heat are adding to the challenges of protecting public health. The latest report—which focuses on ozone, year-round particle pollution, and short-term particle pollution—also finds that people of color are 61 percent more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade in at least one of those categories, and three times more likely to live in a county that fails in all three.

In rankings for each of the three pollution categories covered by the ALA report, California cities occupy the top three slots (i.e., were highest in pollution), despite progress that the Golden State has made in reducing air pollution emissions in the past half century. At the other end of the spectrum, these cities consistently rank among the country’s best for air quality: Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu; and Wilmington, North Carolina. 

No one wants to live next door to an incinerator, oil refinery, port, toxic waste dump, or other polluting site. Yet millions of people around the world do, and this puts them at a much higher risk for respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, neurological damage, cancer, and death. In the United States, people of color are 1.5 times more likely than whites to live in areas with poor air quality, according to the ALA.

Historically, racist zoning policies and discriminatory lending practices known as  redlining  have combined to keep polluting industries and car-choked highways away from white neighborhoods and have turned communities of color—especially low-income and working-class communities of color—into sacrifice zones, where residents are forced to breathe dirty air and suffer the many health problems associated with it. In addition to the increased health risks that come from living in such places, the polluted air can economically harm residents in the form of missed workdays and higher medical costs.

Environmental racism isn't limited to cities and industrial areas. Outdoor laborers, including the estimated three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States, are among the most vulnerable to air pollution—and they’re also among the least equipped, politically, to pressure employers and lawmakers to affirm their right to breathe clean air.

Recently,  cumulative impact mapping , which uses data on environmental conditions and demographics, has been able to show how some communities are overburdened with layers of issues, like high levels of poverty, unemployment, and pollution. Tools like the  Environmental Justice Screening Method  and the EPA’s  EJScreen  provide evidence of what many environmental justice communities have been explaining for decades: that we need land use and public health reforms to ensure that vulnerable areas are not overburdened and that the people who need resources the most are receiving them.

In the United States, the  Clean Air Act  has been a crucial tool for reducing air pollution since its passage in 1970, although fossil fuel interests aided by industry-friendly lawmakers have frequently attempted to  weaken its many protections. Ensuring that this bedrock environmental law remains intact and properly enforced will always be key to maintaining and improving our air quality.

But the best, most effective way to control air pollution is to speed up our transition to cleaner fuels and industrial processes. By switching over to renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar power), maximizing fuel efficiency in our vehicles, and replacing more and more of our gasoline-powered cars and trucks with electric versions, we'll be limiting air pollution at its source while also curbing the global warming that heightens so many of its worst health impacts.

And what about the economic costs of controlling air pollution? According to a report on the Clean Air Act commissioned by NRDC, the annual  benefits of cleaner air  are up to 32 times greater than the cost of clean air regulations. Those benefits include up to 370,000 avoided premature deaths, 189,000 fewer hospital admissions for cardiac and respiratory illnesses, and net economic benefits of up to $3.8 trillion for the U.S. economy every year.

“The less gasoline we burn, the better we’re doing to reduce air pollution and the harmful effects of climate change,” Walke explains. “Make good choices about transportation. When you can, ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation. For driving, choose a car that gets better miles per gallon of gas or  buy an electric car .” You can also investigate your power provider options—you may be able to request that your electricity be supplied by wind or solar. Buying your food locally cuts down on the fossil fuels burned in trucking or flying food in from across the world. And most important: “Support leaders who push for clean air and water and responsible steps on climate change,” Walke says.

  • “When you see in the news or hear on the weather report that pollution levels are high, it may be useful to limit the time when children go outside or you go for a jog,” Walke says. Generally, ozone levels tend to be lower in the morning.
  • If you exercise outside, stay as far as you can from heavily trafficked roads. Then shower and wash your clothes to remove fine particles.
  • The air may look clear, but that doesn’t mean it’s pollution free. Utilize tools like the EPA’s air pollution monitor,  AirNow , to get the latest conditions. If the air quality is bad, stay inside with the windows closed.
  • If you live or work in an area that’s prone to wildfires,  stay away from the harmful smoke  as much as you’re able. Consider keeping a small stock of masks to wear when conditions are poor. The most ideal masks for smoke particles will be labelled “NIOSH” (which stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and have either “N95” or “P100” printed on it.
  • If you’re using an air conditioner while outdoor pollution conditions are bad, use the recirculating setting to limit the amount of polluted air that gets inside. 

This story was originally published on November 1, 2016, and has been updated with new information and links.

This story is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the story was originally published by and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as grammar); you can’t resell the story in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select stories individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our stories.

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The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics

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31 The Ethics of Environmental Pollution

Kevin Elliot is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University. He focuses on Environmental ethics and philosophy of science and is jointly appointed in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

  • Published: 11 February 2016
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Environmental pollution played a central role in launching the environmental movement during the twentieth century. While some environmental ethicists have worried that concerns about pollution reflect a relatively “shallow” form of environmentalism focused on the concerns of the wealthy, pollution is also a significant threat to many disadvantaged groups, citizens of low-income countries, and non-human organisms. Ethical issues arise both in the course of scientific research to identify harmful pollutants and in policy decisions about how to regulate them. New strategies are needed for generating scientific research that adequately reflects the concerns and priorities of the public as a whole rather than the values of polluting industries. Creative policy approaches are also needed so that we can identify harmful pollutants more quickly and avoid generating them in the first place.

1 Definition and Major Sources

In the simplest sense, pollution consists of energy or substances that are released into the environment and that cause harm to humans or other living organisms. Major examples include air pollution, water pollution, and soil contamination caused by the release of toxic chemicals, particulates, or radioactive substances. Less well-known examples include noise pollution (noise that is loud enough to be physically harmful or annoying), thermal pollution (changes in water temperature that affect aquatic life), genetic pollution (the introduction of genes into new biological contexts in ways that cause harm), and light pollution (light from cities that interferes with animal life or astronomical observations).

While pollution initially appears fairly easy to define, a number of difficult issues lie beneath the surface. For example, there is evidence that some normally toxic chemicals could actually have beneficial effects at low doses ( Elliott, 2011 ). Therefore, one faces the question of whether the release of such chemicals counts as pollution when they are emitted at “safe” or even beneficial dose levels. Even if these emissions did not cause physical or biological harm, one might classify them as pollution if they caused some other form of harm (e.g., economic or aesthetic) or if the emissions expressed a lack of respect for others ( Hale and Grundy, 2009 ). In other cases, chemicals might have harmful effects on some organisms or systems while having beneficial effects on others. For example, sulfate aerosols contribute to acid rain and human lung irritation, but they also have a “global dimming” effect that inhibits climate change; similarly, ground-level (tropospheric) ozone causes respiratory problems, but it may also have some of the same beneficial effects as stratospheric ozone in protecting organisms from ultraviolet radiation. In these sorts of cases, the decision of whether or not to classify a chemical as a pollutant appears to depend on which effects or systems one decides to focus on.

A further challenge to this definition of pollution is that it does not fully capture the cultural significance of pollution concepts in human society. Anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966) famously argued that pollution concepts, like taboos, developed as symbolic systems for maintaining order and safeguarding social categories. As she puts it, “Dirt offends against order. Eliminating it is … a positive effort to organise [ sic ] the environment” ( Douglas, 1966 : 2). While one might think that this symbolic aspect to pollution applies only to primitive societies, contemporary social scientists have found that people’s cultural viewpoints (e.g., whether they hold a more individualist or a more communitarian worldview) have a significant impact on how they perceive environmental risks, including those associated with pollution (see, e.g., Kahan et al., 2006 ; Kahan, 2010 ). More strikingly, these cultural influences on risk perception appear to influence not only ordinary citizens but also expert scientists.

The cultural underpinnings of the pollution concept can also be observed in current debates about genetic pollution from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As Paul Thompson (2003) points out, when gene flow occurs from a transgenic plant into its wild relatives, it is not clear whether this phenomenon should count as a form of pollution. Some figures classify this gene flow itself as a hazard, whereas others classify it only as a mechanism that could potentially contribute to harmful effects but that is not by itself a hazard. Thus, culturally influenced value judgments play an important role in deciding whether this form of gene flow should be classified as an instance of pollution.

Nevertheless, while a fully comprehensive approach might require attention to the ways in which people’s perceptions of pollution are underwritten by cultural categories and assumptions, many contemporary pollution problems can be characterized in terms of fairly uncontroversial physical and biological harms. Some of the most significant sources of pollution include agriculture, transportation, electricity generation, and other industrial activities ( Resnik, 2012 ). In the case of agriculture, fertilizer run-off contributes to algae blooms that have caused serious damage to fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay. Meanwhile, agricultural pesticides pose risks to the environment, as well as to farmers and their families. They appear to be a contributing factor in declining amphibian and bee populations, as well as reproductive problems in birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish ( Resnik, 2012 ). In humans, pesticides have been linked to numerous types of cancer, especially among children, as well as developmental damage to the nervous and immune systems ( Shrader-Frechette, 2007 ).

Combustion of hydrocarbons for transportation and electricity generation releases nitrogen and sulfur oxides, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter. These pollutants contribute to problems such as acid rain, climate change, and cardiovascular and respiratory damage to living organisms. Because of its potential to cause agricultural failure, biodiversity loss, water shortages, flooding, and other severe forms of social disruption, climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues of the twenty-first century. But the other effects associated with pollution should not be underestimated; scientists estimate that particulate air pollution alone contributes to more than 50,000 deaths per year in the United States ( Shrader-Frechette, 2007 ). Other industrial processes release heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, which can contribute to a variety of neurological and developmental problems. Emerging areas of technology such as nanotechnology and geoengineering also generate pollution risks that are receiving increasing attention ( Hale and Grundy, 2009 ; Royal Society, 2004 , 2009 ).

Finally, in addition to these obvious sources of pollution, people are exposed to numerous chemicals through everyday exposures to upholstery, carpet, computers, cans and plastic containers, receipts, tap water, and food. A Canadian study of people’s “body burdens” of toxic substances found that “No matter where people live, how old they are or what they do for a living, they are contaminated with measurable levels of chemicals that can cause cancer and respiratory problems, disrupt hormones, and affect reproduction and neurological development” ( Cranor, 2011 : 22). These chemicals include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, synthetic estrogens, and perfluorinated compounds. The precise health effects of many of these chemicals continue to be debated, but this is partly because chemical manufacturers in the United States have not been required to collect toxicity data for products other than pharmaceuticals and pesticides ( Cranor, 2011 ).

2 Significance of Pollution for Environmental Ethics

Historically, pollution played a particularly important role in the development of the environmental movement. For example, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (1962) , which highlighted the risks associated with pesticide pollution, played a central role in galvanizing citizens to address environmental problems. The famous 1969 fire caused by water pollution in Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was also a crucial symbol for the environmental movement. Pollution worries have continued to garner massive media attention because of incidents like the nuclear meltdowns at Chernobyl in 1986 and at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, the deaths of several thousand people from the release of methyl isocyanate gas at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984, and the oil spills from the Exxon Valdez in 1989 and from the Deep Water Horizon rig in 2010.

Nevertheless, some environmental ethicists have argued that the focus on issues like pollution and resource depletion constitutes a relatively “shallow” form of environmentalism that focuses on the needs and concerns of people in developed countries. For example, Arne Naess (1973) argued that a “deep” ecological mindset requires moving beyond mere pollution concerns and adopting a nonanthropocentric value system. A strong case can be made, however, that addressing pollution should still be a high priority for nonanthropocentrists and those who advocate for disadvantaged groups. In developed countries such as the United States, studies indicate that minorities tend to be exposed to higher levels of toxic waste facilities than other groups, even when controlling for income ( Steel and Whyte, 2012 ). And in developing countries, citizens are exposed to particularly severe pollution threats from sources such as agricultural chemicals, air pollution, mining, and electronic waste ( Shrader-Frechette, 2007 ). Finally, the pollution that contributes to climate change raises serious problems not only for humans but for other living organisms and ecosystems across the globe.

In order to address contemporary pollution issues, however, it may be necessary to move beyond traditional paradigms. Pollution has often been conceptualized as a sort of “waste” that escapes from the private domain into the public domain. Viewed in this way, the obvious response to the problem is to collect it and prevent it from causing harm to others. Unfortunately, contemporary pollution problems such as climate change raise challenges for this paradigm. The pollutants cannot be easily seen, their effects are difficult to identify precisely, and their consequences are often very distant in time and space from their origin ( Gardiner, 2006 ; Spence et al., 2012 ). Therefore, it is often difficult to assign responsibility for pollution-related harms or to motivate citizens to address these problems.

While it is not entirely clear what a new paradigm for conceptualizing and addressing pollution would look like, a variety of suggestions have recently been offered. One important proposal is to adopt a “cradle-to-cradle” industrial design strategy that mimics biological metabolism ( McDonough and Braungart, 2002 ). Rather than attempting to minimize waste or pollution, this design approach attempts to eliminate waste completely by creating cycles in which old products can either be biodegraded or can serve as feedstock for new products. Similarly, efforts at “green chemistry” attempt to identify new processes for chemical synthesis that do not generate harmful products or byproducts ( Anastas and Warner, 2000 ). New regulatory systems that discourage the use of entire classes of worrisome chemicals (e.g., persistent chlorinated pollutants) and encourage research into alternatives could play a valuable role in promoting a more widespread shift toward green chemistry ( Frickel et al., 2010 ). In order to generate public support for addressing the pollution problems that remain, social scientists are exploring ways to frame pollution problems in ways that make their significance more salient to people ( Kahan, 2010 ; Maibach et al., 2010 ). Finally, given how difficult it can be to trace causal responsibility for the public-health effects of toxic chemicals, regulatory policies may need to be changed to force manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their products before they market them ( Cranor, 2011 ).

3 Identifying and Assessing Pollution Risks

One might be inclined to think that the major ethical issues related to pollution are isolated to the policy sphere, where decisions are made about how best to regulate pollutants. However, many of these issues find their way “upstream” into the scientific processes of identifying pollutants and assessing the risks associated with them. Environmental ethicists can play a valuable role by highlighting the presence of these often implicit ethical and political value judgments, which might otherwise go unnoticed ( Brown, 2009 ).

Many of the ethical issues associated with identifying pollutants and assessing their toxicity arise because of pervasive scientific uncertainties. For example, when scientists perform studies on experimental animals, they typically expose them to very large doses of toxic substances so that they can more easily obtain statistically significant results. Then, they face difficult decisions about how to extrapolate from high-dose effects to low-dose effects, from animals to humans, and from humans in general to particularly sensitive humans such as children and pregnant women ( Elliott, 2011 ). They also frequently have to evaluate conflicting data from multiple studies (which may employ a range of different methodologies) in an effort to decide where the “weight of evidence” lies ( Douglas, 2012 ). When faced with these sorts of uncertainties, ethical considerations are relevant to deciding whether to draw scientific conclusions that err on the side of public health or on the side of industry ( Cranor, 1993 ; Elliott, 2011 ).

The US National Research Council (NRC) attempted to address this intertwining of science and ethics in its seminal publication Risk Assessment in the Federal Government ( NRC, 1983 ). First, it suggested that the process of risk assessment (which involves scientific questions about, say, the degree to which exposure to a toxic chemical will increase cancer incidence) should be clearly distinguished from the process of risk management (which involves ethical and political questions about, say, how high a level of cancer incidence is socially acceptable). Moreover, the NRC argued that any remaining ethical or political issues that cannot be entirely eliminated from risk assessment (e.g., decisions about how to extrapolate from high-dose toxic effects to low-dose effects under uncertainty) should be settled in a uniform manner by creating predetermined policies or “inference guidelines” to be followed in every case. By doing so, the NRC hoped that they could maintain risk assessment as a consistent, relatively objective process that would not be swayed by political debates in specific cases.

While this effort to keep scientific reasoning relatively distinct from ethics and politics is appealing in many ways, subsequent experiences with risk assessments have shown that they can be influenced by a wide variety of subtle, value-laden choices that cannot be isolated as standardized “inference guidelines.” These include decisions about the initial framing of the risk situation, the specific questions asked, the collection and characterization of data, and the interpretation and communication of evidence. Even the language used for describing scientific phenomena can have ethically significant effects on how citizens and scientists respond to them ( Elliott, 2009 ; Elliott, 2011 ; Larson, 2011 ). Therefore, the NRC proposed a different approach to handling the influences of ethical and political values on risk assessment in its later volume, Understanding Risk (1996) . It suggested that risks should be assessed using an iterative process that moves back and forth between technical analyses (which involve straightforward procedures that can be performed by experts) and broad-based deliberation (which incorporates interested and affected parties in discussions about what analyses to undertake and how to interpret them). The NRC hoped that by incorporating deliberation among interested and affected parties throughout the process of risk assessment, any value-laden choices would be brought to light and addressed in a democratic fashion.

Unfortunately, most research on pollution is not performed in such a transparent and democratically responsive manner. Because it is difficult to establish compelling evidence that particular pollutants cause specific human or environmental problems, there are significant financial incentives for polluters to manipulate scientific research in ways that support their products. One particularly egregious example of this phenomenon is the effort by the fossil-fuel industry to mislead the public about the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change ( Oreskes and Conway, 2010 ). But the strategies used for manipulating and suppressing evidence about climate change have also been employed by industry in a wide variety of other cases in an effort to lessen public concerns about pollutants such as lead, asbestos, vinyl chloride, benzene, chromium, beryllium, and dioxin ( Elliott, 2016 ; Michaels, 2008 ). Another strategy for influencing research on pollution is to preferentially fund some projects rather than others. For example, agricultural research is dominated by funding for high-tech strategies that are likely to generate profits for agribusiness but that are much less likely than novel “agro-ecological” strategies to alleviate pollution risks ( Elliott, 2013 ).

A multi-pronged approach is needed for responding to these influences on research ( Elliott, 2011 ). An initial task for ethicists is to clarify which sorts of ethical and political influences on science are appropriate and which sorts are not (see, e.g., Steel and Whyte, 2012 ). Given the problems that are often associated with pollution research funded by those with financial or political interests in the outcome, it is also crucial to maintain ample independent funding for research on pollution, both to assess the toxicity of pollutants and to investigate less-polluting alternatives to current practices ( Elliott, 2016 ; Shrader-Frechette, 2007 ). Nevertheless, because industry funding will undoubtedly continue to play an important role in research on pollution, it is important to find ways to make this research more reliable. One possible strategy would be to funnel industry funding through a governmental or nongovernmental body that would contract out research to universities or other research laboratories ( Volz and Elliott, 2012 ). Another possibility would be to promote public trust and research reliability by creating research collaborations between industry and citizen groups or environmental NGOs ( Elliott, 2014 ). A variety of legal reforms could also help to mitigate financial influences on science by making more of the data from safety studies publicly available and by enabling those who are threatened by pollution to more effectively challenge polluters in court ( McGarity and Wagner, 2008 : 283; Soranno et al., 2015 ).

4 Regulating Pollution

While the impacts of ethical and political values on scientific research are often fairly subtle, their influences on decisions about how to regulate pollution are much more obvious. One approach to regulating pollution is to view it as a fundamentally economic issue. On this view, there is an optimal level of pollution that can be identified by determining when the marginal costs of eliminating more pollution become high enough to diminish overall human satisfaction ( Baxter, 1974 ). From this perspective, pollution becomes a problem when “external” costs are not adequately priced by the market. For example, when a power plant emits carbon dioxide, the plant operators do not bear the costs that arise because of its contribution to global climate change. Therefore, the power produced by that plant will be underpriced in the market relative to its full social costs and will therefore be overproduced relative to less polluting approaches such as energy conservation and renewable energy technologies ( Sagoff, 2004 : 104). The typical economic solution to this problem is to find ways to measure the external costs of pollution so that they can be “internalized” through taxes or fees or other forms of regulation.

This approach raises ethical worries, however. One problem is that economic measurements of the social costs of pollution are influenced by factors that seem ethically irrelevant. This is vividly illustrated by a well-publicized incident in which an internal World Bank memo was leaked to the public ( “Let Them Eat Pollution,” 1992 ). The memo, which was signed by the bank’s Chief Economist Lawrence Summers, included a controversial aside stating that developed countries ought to export more pollution to developing countries. The rationale was that the economic costs of pollution-related deaths and injuries are lower in developing countries, because wages are so much less. This reasoning might make sense from an economic perspective, but from an ethical perspective it seems to violate principles of justice and equity.

Another problem with the economic approach is that efforts to measure the social costs of pollution and to compare those costs with pollution’s benefits are sensitive to numerous assumptions, such as the types of costs and benefits that are included in the analysis, the ways in which monetary values are assigned to them, and probabilistic estimates of their likelihood. Because of all this room for judgment, interest groups can manipulate cost-benefit analyses to obtain results that they desire ( Sagoff, 2004 ; Shrader-Frechette, 1985 ). Nevertheless, these analyses can also be valuable as a way of making regulatory decisions more transparent and explicit ( Schmidtz, 2001 ; Shrader-Frechette, 1985 ). Furthermore, policymakers can supplement these analyses with ethical principles that prevent violations of justice or equity ( Schmidtz, 2001 ). Therefore, the merits of cost-benefit analyses arguably depend a great deal on whether they can be employed in a manner that includes adequate critical scrutiny and attention to additional ethical principles.

Other approaches to regulating pollution place less emphasis on economic analyses. For example, most ethicists would argue that pollution is not merely a source of external social costs but is in fact a violation of individual rights. These could involve rights not to be harmed or rights to give consent to any interference with one’s body or property ( Hale and Grundy, 2009 ). Unfortunately, once one views pollution as a violation of one’s personal or property rights, it becomes unclear how to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable levels of pollution. In principle, one could argue that it is never acceptable to violate other people’s property rights by emitting pollution without their consent, but a policy of that sort could be unrealistic and economically disastrous. Therefore, this approach is typically weakened in some fashion. One option is to argue that risks from pollution are ethically acceptable as long as they remain below a de minimis threshold, where risks below that threshold are considered small enough to be ignored. Another option is to insist that pollution risks should be eliminated to the extent that is feasible using the best available technology (BAT).

A final ethical issue regarding the regulation of pollution is the question of who should bear the burden of proof for showing whether particular chemicals are harmful or not. In the United States, manufacturers have to provide evidence that pharmaceuticals and pesticides are safe before they can market them. (Of course, as illustrated by ongoing debates over the safety of pesticides such as atrazine and the neonicotinoids, it is not clear that these safety studies are always adequate.) For other chemicals, which have been regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), manufacturers have not been obligated to prove the safety of their products before marketing them. Therefore, of the 50,000 chemicals proposed for manufacturing since 1979, there appears to be little or no toxicity information for about 85% of them ( Cranor, 2011 : 148). This policy is in contrast with the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation, which requires manufacturers to submit information about the safety of industrial chemicals to regulatory authorities before they are marketed. Carl Cranor (2011) has argued that the US regulatory system under TSCA plausibly violated medical ethics guidelines, which require that appropriate prior research be performed before exposing people (and especially children) to potentially toxic substances. Partly in response to these failures, in 2016 the US Congress passed new legislation, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the twenty-first Century Act, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency more power to determine whether chemicals were safe before allowing them to be marketed.

5 The Precautionary Principle

In recent years, one of the most commonly discussed approaches for addressing the range of ethical issues associated with identifying, assessing, and regulating pollutants is to adopt the “precautionary principle” (PP). Many analysts argue that the PP consists not so much of a single principle as a family of related approaches. The Wingspread Declaration of 1998 illustrates its basic form: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not established scientifically” ( Raffensperger and Tickner, 1999 ). In order to implement this principle, it is necessary to specify at least three issues: (1) the precise kinds of threats that justify precautionary action; (2) the amount of knowledge needed about the threats to justify action; and (3) the sorts of precautionary measures appropriate in specific circumstances (see, e.g., Manson, 2002 ; Sandin, 1999 ). Some proponents of the PP argue that this flexibility is valuable, because different countries and cultures can decide how much precaution they want to demand ( von Schomberg, 2006 ).

One of the strengths of the PP is that it is geared toward developing creative responses to the pervasive uncertainty surrounding the identification, assessment, and regulation of pollutants. For example, many proponents of the PP argue that, instead of encouraging endless wrangling over the precise probability that particular chemicals will cause harm at specific dose levels, the PP encourages the search for alternatives to suspect chemicals. There are also a number of ways in which scientific research might be performed differently in order to support the PP: (1) asking broad questions about potential harms from pollutants (even if the questions cannot be easily addressed using current research methodologies) and pursuing multidisciplinary strategies for addressing them; (2) studying the interactive and cumulative effects of multiple hazards in real-life contexts; (3) accepting qualitative data about pollution threats when quantitative data are difficult to collect; (4) engaging in strategic monitoring and surveillance so as to uncover potential threats as quickly as possible; and (5) lowering the standards of evidence required for identifying potential pollution hazards (see, e.g., Tickner, 2003 ). Many proponents of the PP also argue that it calls for depending less on expert judgment and more on democratic deliberation about how to handle pollution threats that are difficult to quantify (see, e.g., Raffensperger and Tickner, 1999 ).

Despite its strengths, the PP has come under fire from a number of critics. Some argue that it faces the dilemma of either being too strong (in which case it is paralyzing) or too weak (in which case it is trivial; see, e.g., Sunstein, 2005 ). On one hand, if one interprets it as calling for a ban on any actions or policies that could potentially cause serious harm, then it would seem to block almost all innovation. On the other hand, if one interprets it only as calling for prudent steps to be taken to avoid or minimize catastrophic scenarios, then it hardly seems to be particularly new or groundbreaking. In the background of these criticisms is the worry that society cannot afford to take aggressive actions against all potential threats without prioritizing them based on their likelihood and severity. But once one attempts to collect this sort of information, the PP seems to reduce to something akin to traditional cost-benefit analysis.

But these criticisms are too quick ( Steel, 2014 ). One can take a variety of precautionary actions without going bankrupt or obtaining the sorts of precise quantitative information that traditional cost-benefit analyses require. One way to conceptualize the PP is in terms of “robust” policymaking. Policies are robust if they produce satisfactory results across a very broad range of potential future scenarios. Robust policies are not designed with the aim of getting the best possible results under the assumption that the future turns out to be exactly the way we expect; instead, they are designed to yield satisfactory results over a very wide range of possible future scenarios ( Mitchell, 2010 ; Steel, 2014 ). In the case of pollution risks, for example, robust policies might include not only the precautionary approaches to scientific research discussed above but also the following strategies: (1) developing “rough and ready” toxicity tests and models that can rapidly assess the potential for substances to be toxic; (2) developing pre-market testing schemes that require manufacturers to employ these sorts of tests; (3) creating disincentives for using potentially toxic chemicals and incentives for developing safer alternatives; and (4) developing plans to minimize worker and consumer exposure to potentially worrisome chemicals.

6 Ongoing Issues

In the future, the most difficult ethical issues related to pollution are likely to revolve around striking an appropriate balance between promoting innovation, on one hand, while protecting human health and the environment, on the other hand. Tens of thousands of chemicals are currently in commerce, and relatively little is known about the biological effects of most of these chemicals ( Cranor, 2011 ). Until fairly recently, scientists did not even recognize many of the potential neurological, developmental, and immunological effects associated with common pollutants. Therefore, society faces a great deal of uncertainty about pollution risks. Even when safety tests have been performed, as in the case of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and GMOs, the adequacy of these tests is often in doubt. The introduction of new technologies such as geoengineering and nanotechnology raise even more pollution concerns.

In response to these worries, it is tempting to insist that new products should not be allowed onto the market without very stringent pre-market safety testing performed by independent regulatory bodies. But this is very difficult to accomplish politically, and the benefits of highly stringent safety tests must be weighed against the costs of slowing technological developments that could yield significant social and environmental benefits. Some of the strategies for robust policymaking discussed in the previous section of this chapter could be helpful for addressing these difficulties. These include the development of expedited testing schemes for assessing potential hazards and the creation of better safeguards for minimizing worker and consumer exposure to toxic substances.

But we also need to promote a new paradigm for industrial activity, as suggested earlier in this chapter. Rather than regarding pollution as an unavoidable cost of doing business, we need to promote the idea that waste should be eliminated in favor of a “cradle-to-cradle” model for industrial activity ( McDonough and Braungart, 2002 ). We also need to encourage green chemistry and efforts to engineer “safety by design” into new products. Therefore, new legislation to control pollution should focus not solely on identifying hazardous substances and keeping them off the market but also on incentivizing businesses to avoid the production and release of potential pollutants from the outset. For example, the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Act of 1989 required companies using suspicious chemicals to report how much of those chemicals they were using and to explore whether there were feasible alternatives. Instead of promoting endless debates about the safety of these chemicals, this legislation encouraged companies to reflect on why they were using particular substances and design processes; in many cases, it turned out that the available alternatives were both safer and less expensive ( Raffensperger and Tickner, 1999 ). These are just small examples of the efforts that we can undertake to address pollution by encouraging a new industrial paradigm that is not only better for the environment but that actually takes the processes found in the environment as models for eliminating pollution and waste.

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Air pollution.

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings.

Biology, Ecology, Earth Science, Geography

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Morgan Stanley

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings. Pollutants in the air take many forms. They can be gases , solid particles , or liquid droplets. Sources of Air Pollution Pollution enters the Earth's atmosphere in many different ways. Most air pollution is created by people, taking the form of emissions from factories, cars, planes, or aerosol cans . Second-hand cigarette smoke is also considered air pollution . These man-made sources of pollution are called anthropogenic sources . Some types of air pollution , such as smoke from wildfires or ash from volcanoes , occur naturally. These are called natural sources . Air pollution is most common in large cities where emissions from many different sources are concentrated . Sometimes, mountains or tall buildings prevent air pollution from spreading out. This air pollution often appears as a cloud making the air murky. It is called smog . The word " smog " comes from combining the words " smoke " and " fog ." Large cities in poor and developing nations tend to have more air pollution than cities in developed nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , some of the worlds most polluted cities are Karachi, Pakistan; New Delhi, India; Beijing, China; Lima, Peru; and Cairo, Egypt. However, many developed nations also have air pollution problems. Los Angeles, California, is nicknamed Smog City. Indoor Air Pollution Air pollution is usually thought of as smoke from large factories or exhaust from vehicles. But there are many types of indoor air pollution as well. Heating a house by burning substances such as kerosene , wood, and coal can contaminate the air inside the house. Ash and smoke make breathing difficult, and they can stick to walls, food, and clothing. Naturally-occurring radon gas , a cancer -causing material, can also build up in homes. Radon is released through the surface of the Earth. Inexpensive systems installed by professionals can reduce radon levels. Some construction materials, including insulation , are also dangerous to people's health. In addition, ventilation , or air movement, in homes and rooms can lead to the spread of toxic mold . A single colony of mold may exist in a damp, cool place in a house, such as between walls. The mold 's spores enter the air and spread throughout the house. People can become sick from breathing in the spores . Effects On Humans People experience a wide range of health effects from being exposed to air pollution . Effects can be broken down into short-term effects and long-term effects . Short-term effects , which are temporary , include illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis . They also include discomfort such as irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin. Air pollution can also cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea . Bad smells made by factories, garbage , or sewer systems are considered air pollution , too. These odors are less serious but still unpleasant . Long-term effects of air pollution can last for years or for an entire lifetime. They can even lead to a person's death. Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease , lung cancer , and respiratory diseases such as emphysema . Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people's nerves , brain, kidneys , liver , and other organs. Some scientists suspect air pollutants cause birth defects . Nearly 2.5 million people die worldwide each year from the effects of outdoor or indoor air pollution . People react differently to different types of air pollution . Young children and older adults, whose immune systems tend to be weaker, are often more sensitive to pollution. Conditions such as asthma , heart disease , and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution . The length of exposure and amount and type of pollutants are also factors.

Effects On The Environment Like people, animals, and plants, entire ecosystems can suffer effects from air pollution . Haze , like smog , is a visible type of air pollution that obscures shapes and colors. Hazy air pollution can even muffle sounds. Air pollution particles eventually fall back to Earth. Air pollution can directly contaminate the surface of bodies of water and soil . This can kill crops or reduce their yield . It can kill young trees and other plants. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide particles in the air, can create acid rain when they mix with water and oxygen in the atmosphere . These air pollutants come mostly from coal-fired power plants and motor vehicles . When acid rain falls to Earth, it damages plants by changing soil composition ; degrades water quality in rivers, lakes and streams; damages crops ; and can cause buildings and monuments to decay . Like humans, animals can suffer health effects from exposure to air pollution . Birth defects , diseases, and lower reproductive rates have all been attributed to air pollution . Global Warming Global warming is an environmental phenomenon caused by natural and anthropogenic air pollution . It refers to rising air and ocean temperatures around the world. This temperature rise is at least partially caused by an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere . Greenhouse gases trap heat energy in the Earths atmosphere . (Usually, more of Earths heat escapes into space.) Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has had the biggest effect on global warming . Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels ( coal , gasoline , and natural gas ). Humans have come to rely on fossil fuels to power cars and planes, heat homes, and run factories. Doing these things pollutes the air with carbon dioxide . Other greenhouse gases emitted by natural and artificial sources also include methane , nitrous oxide , and fluorinated gases . Methane is a major emission from coal plants and agricultural processes. Nitrous oxide is a common emission from industrial factories, agriculture, and the burning of fossil fuels in cars. Fluorinated gases , such as hydrofluorocarbons , are emitted by industry. Fluorinated gases are often used instead of gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs have been outlawed in many places because they deplete the ozone layer . Worldwide, many countries have taken steps to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming . The Kyoto Protocol , first adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, is an agreement between 183 countries that they will work to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions . The United States has not signed that treaty . Regulation In addition to the international Kyoto Protocol , most developed nations have adopted laws to regulate emissions and reduce air pollution . In the United States, debate is under way about a system called cap and trade to limit emissions . This system would cap, or place a limit, on the amount of pollution a company is allowed. Companies that exceeded their cap would have to pay. Companies that polluted less than their cap could trade or sell their remaining pollution allowance to other companies. Cap and trade would essentially pay companies to limit pollution. In 2006 the World Health Organization issued new Air Quality Guidelines. The WHOs guidelines are tougher than most individual countries existing guidelines. The WHO guidelines aim to reduce air pollution -related deaths by 15 percent a year. Reduction Anybody can take steps to reduce air pollution . Millions of people every day make simple changes in their lives to do this. Taking public transportation instead of driving a car, or riding a bike instead of traveling in carbon dioxide - emitting vehicles are a couple of ways to reduce air pollution . Avoiding aerosol cans , recycling yard trimmings instead of burning them, and not smoking cigarettes are others.

Downwinders The United States conducted tests of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site in southern Nevada in the 1950s. These tests sent invisible radioactive particles into the atmosphere. These air pollution particles traveled with wind currents, eventually falling to Earth, sometimes hundreds of miles away in states including Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Washington. These areas were considered to be "downwind" from the Nevada Test Site. Decades later, people living in those downwind areascalled "downwinders"began developing cancer at above-normal rates. In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. This law entitles some downwinders to payments of $50,000.

Greenhouse Gases There are five major greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.

London Smog What has come to be known as the London Smog of 1952, or the Great Smog of 1952, was a four-day incident that sickened 100,000 people and caused as many as 12,000 deaths. Very cold weather in December 1952 led residents of London, England, to burn more coal to keep warm. Smoke and other pollutants became trapped by a thick fog that settled over the city. The polluted fog became so thick that people could only see a few meters in front of them.

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What is the conclusion of environment pollution?

what is a conclusion of environmental pollution

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is the conclusion of environment pollution?
  • 2 What is the important of environmental science?
  • 3 What is the conclusion of environmental protection?
  • 4 Which is the best conclusion to environmental issues?
  • 5 What are the subdisciplines of the Environmental Sciences?

Conclusion • Environmental pollution is causing a lot of distress not only to humans but also animals, driving many animal species to endangerment and even extinction.

What is the important of environmental science?

Our environment is very important to us because it is where we live and share resources with other species. Environmental science enlightens us on how to conserve our environment in the face of increasing human population growth and anthropogenic activities that degrade natural resources and ecosystems.

What is ecosystem conclusion?

You should now understand that: Ecology is a scientific approach to the study of the biosphere. Ecosystems are created by the interrelationships between living organisms and the physical environments they inhabit (land, water, air). Human beings are part of ecosystems, as well as manipulators of ecosystems. …

What is the conclusion of environmental degradation?

In conclusion, environmental degradation, increased poverty, financial crisis, food, and energy crisis are the main global issues of concern contemporarily.

What is the conclusion of environmental protection?

Our natural environment makes human life possible, and our cultural environment helps define who we are. It is therefore essential that our population and economic growth are environmentally sustainable.

Which is the best conclusion to environmental issues?

What do you need to know about environmental science?

What is the impact of Environmental Science on society?

What are the subdisciplines of the Environmental Sciences?

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  • Review Article
  • Published: 16 October 2023

Current status and future challenges of chlorobenzenes pollution in soil and groundwater (CBsPSG) in the twenty-first century: a bibliometric analysis

  • Zhi Feng 1 ,
  • Zhe Yang 1 ,
  • Sen Yang 1 ,
  • Hanxiang Xiong 1 ,
  • Yu Ning 1 ,
  • Changxiang Wang 1 &
  • Yilian Li 1  

Environmental Science and Pollution Research volume  30 ,  pages 111748–111765 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

121 Accesses

Metrics details

The global industrial structure had undertaken significant changes since the twenty-first century, making a severe problem of chlorobenzene pollution in soil and groundwater (CBsPSG). CBsPSG receives increasing attention due to the high toxicity, persistence, and bioaccumulation of chlorobenzenes. To date, despite the gravity of this issue, no bibliometric analysis (BA) of CBsPSG does exist. This study fills up the gap by conducting a BA of 395 articles related to CBsPSG from the Web of Science Core Collection database using CiteSpace. Based on a comprehensive analysis of various aspects, including time-related, related disciplines, keywords, journal contribution, author productivity, and institute and country distribution, the status, development, and hotspots of research in the field were shown visually and statistically. Moreover, this study has also delved into the environmental behavior and remediation techniques of CBsPSG. In addition, four challenges (unequal research development, insufficient cooperation, deeply mechanism research, and developing new technologies) have been identified, and corresponding suggestions have been proposed for the future development of research in the field. Afterwards, the limitations of BA were discussed. This work provides a powerful insight into CBsPSG, enabling to quickly identify the hotspot and direction of future studies by relevant researchers.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 42077186).

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Zhi Feng: conceptualization, methodology, investigation, visualization, writing—original draft. Zhe Yang, Sen Yang, Hanxiang Xiong: methodology, visualization, writing—review and editing. Yu Ning, Yilian Li: conceptualization, supervision. Changxiang Wang: methodology, investigation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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• CBsPSG remains a serious global problem in the twenty-first century.

• Microbial, bioavailability, and remediation technologies are research hotspots in CBsPSG.

• Microbial degradation dominates the migration of chlorobenzenes in the soil–sediment–water–gas system.

• The challenges and suggestions proposed can provide valuable guidance for CBsPSG development.

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Feng, Z., Yang, Z., Yang, S. et al. Current status and future challenges of chlorobenzenes pollution in soil and groundwater (CBsPSG) in the twenty-first century: a bibliometric analysis. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30 , 111748–111765 (2023).

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