Health Affects

7 million people die from air pollution related issues every year. This diagram illustrates some of the harmful affects that air pollution can have on your body.

Heart

Air pollution causes damage to the inside walls of your blood vessels leading to the narrowing and hardening of vessel walls. The movement of blood is then as a result restricted which increases your blood pressure and puts strain on your heart. These symptoms increase an individuals chances of a heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia's and or heart failure.

Intestines

Particulates that are cleared out of the lungs and respiratory system often make there way through the intestinal tract in mucus before being excreted by the body. This means that these contaminants are continuously moving through the intestines. Studies have also shown that an increase in exposure to high levels of air pollution has had a significant effect on the rate of bowel diseases. Contaminates such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic chemicals and fine particulate matter were all found to contribute to a decline in intestinal health.

Liver, spleen and blood

Exposure to microscopic particles have proven to increase the chances of liver failure and metabolic diseases. This also effects an individuals blood as the liver is a major site for blood production and purification.

Other - (eyes,nasal passages and skin)

Dust and other gaseous or solid contaminates irritate the eyes and nasal passage. Radiation is the main atmospheric pollutant responsible for skin damage.

Affects on Ecosystems

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Water

Air pollution is also capable of contaminating large bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, or streams. Nitrogen compounds in air pollution are partly the cause of algal blooms, and can also contribute to water bodies becoming more acidic. When fossil fuels are burned, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere. Both of these air pollutants dissolve to form acidic aquatic environments. The acidic water vapor then evaporates and condenses into clouds and inevitably then falls as precipitation, often refereed to acid rain. This decreases water quality not only for fish but also for the animals that rely on that body of water to survive, even humans.

Plants

Plants need nitrogen to grow and develop. Too much nitrogen however, causes rapid growth which then clogs up waterways and is known as algal bloom.

Acid rain is caused from high levels of oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere. The deposition of the acid rain has an impact on water bodies, soil, vegetation and even man-made buildings. The decrease of the pH levels of water bodies and soils can have a negative indirect affect on ecosystems, for example hindering the ability of certain plants to grow and thrive.

Soil

Acid rain, which results from air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, change the pH of the soil and makes it challenging for plants to grow effectively as soil quality declines.

Animals

Mercury is released into the atmosphere through human activities such as burning waste and from burning fossil fuels such as coal. Mercury then dissolves in water where respiring bacteria converts it into toxic methyl mercury. Fish and shellfish then absorb methyl mercury into their bodies and when other animals ingest these contaminated organisms the methyl mercury then poisons their bodies too.

Another air pollutant that affects the quality of water is nitrogen. Algae grows rapidly in the presence of nitrogen and creates a layer on the surface of the water that prevents sunlight from reaching the aquatic plants at the bottom of the lake. This causes the plants to die and increases the decomposing bacteria present in the lake. These bacteria then use up large amounts of available oxygen in the water and make it difficult for fish to survive.

Acid rain caused by oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide also decrease the pH of the water which affects the hatching of certain species of fish eggs.