A3.4.4 Adverse Effects of Pollution on People



Air Pollution can cause, or exacerbate, a number of health issues, such as asthma and bronchitis. The impact upon a person will depend upon their existing health condition, their activity levels, the duration of exposure to a pollutant and the concentration of the pollutant.  With regard to particle pollutants, the size of the particle affects where it is deposited in the lungs.

Water Pollution can cause health effects where drinking water is affected, or where pollutants are present in water regular used for washing clothes and bathing. This is a particular problem in Less Developed Countries, where there is a high reliance on natural waters for these purposes.


Crop production is affected by contamination in soils, as well as pollutants forming smog and acid rain. Crops may be damaged or killed.

Acid deposition has been shown to directly reduce the yield of radishes, beets, carrots and broccoli. Scientists believe that acid rain damages the protective waxy coating of leaves and allows acids to diffuse into them, which interrupts the evaporation of water and gas exchange so that the plant can no longer breathe. This stops the plant’s conversion of nutrients and water into a form useful for plant growth and affects crop yields. In addition, crops such as corn, potatoes, soy beans and lettuce are damaged by ozone that is created when nitrogen emissions combine with hydrocarbons in the air.


Acid deposition can affect materials through corrosion. The most vulnerable include limestone and marble. This is more of a concern regarding historical monuments and structures than it is on modern buildings. Evidence of such damage is present on famous structures, including Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey.