Short-term health effects include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can aggravate the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema.
Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly. It is estimated that half a million people die prematurely every year in the United States as a result of smoking cigarettes.
EFFECT ON FORESTS,TREES AND PLANTS
Physical injury to leaves is the immediate effect of air pollution on plants. Here is how leaves are affected by different air pollutants:
- Ozone produces a speckle of brown spots, which appear on the flat areas of leaf between the veins
- sulphur dioxide: larger bleached-looking areas
- Nitrogen dioxide: irregular brown or white collapsed lesions on intercostal tissue and near the leaf edge
- Ammonia: unnatural green appearance with tissue drying out
EFFECT ON ANIMALS
- Probably one of the best examples here is that of acid rain and how it affects freshwater animal life.
So acid rain also falls on streams and lakes, acidifies them and destroys fish life in these freshwater ecosystems.For example, in Sweden acid rain made over 18,000 lakes so acidic that all the fish died out.Salmon species appear to be particularly sensitive to acidity.Some other populations of animals in Europe and North America that have also been declining due to acid rain are brown trout, mayfly larvae, beetle larvae, mollusks, and aquatic bird species (ex., the dipper).
- Pollution may also affect animals through plants on which they feed.
For example, pea aphids feed on pea plants exposed to sulfur dioxide in the air. High exposure to sulfur dioxide negatively affects the health of the pea plants, and therefore, the health of the aphids as well.Some other examples of air pollution effects on animals:
- Excessive ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun through the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere which is eroded by some air pollutants, may cause skin cancer in wildlife.