Air pollution
Air Pollution

Air Pollution: Definition, 4 Causes, and Effects for Environment and Human Health

The causes and impacts of air pollution are one of the classic environmental issues for urban communities. It seems to be an unresolved problem. In fact, there are various things that can be the solution.

Air pollution definition

Air pollution is a condition in which the presence of one or more chemical, physical or biological substances in the atmosphere amounts to harm. Harmful to human, animal, and plant health, disrupt aesthetics and comfort, or damage property. Air pollution is one type of environmental pollution in addition to soil pollution, water pollution, noise pollution.

Air Pollution Causes

Air pollution is a destruction of air quality. This quality damage is caused by various sources, both biological and non-biological sources. Air pollution can be sourced from a wide range of, among others:

  • Motor vehicle fumes,
  • Factory fumes,
  • Industrial wastes,
  • Household waste and others.

Some of these sources are also sources of soil pollution.

Indeed, air pollution can still be produced naturally by nature, but it is the human hand that makes the pollution even bigger and more uncontrollable. Air pollution began to become a huge problem of the industrial revolution of the late 18th to early 19th centuries in which humans massively expanded and massive industrial development.

Although a little late, but finally slowly many realize that the pollution levels in the world are getting out of control and finally slowly many factories are prioritizing a minimal way of pollution and waste.

Air pollution can also occur due to the growing number of private vehicles filling the city’s streets. The emission problem that is not too strict makes the pollution worse even as vehicles that emit smog from the exhaust are still allowed to operate.

Air Pollution Effects

The following are some of the effects of air pollution, among others:

  • Human health problems
  • Global warming
  • Acid rain
  • Eutrophication
  • Negative effects on wildlife
  • Depletion of the ozone layer.

Here’s an explanation of each of the consequences of air pollution:

Health problems

The effects of air pollution are worried because it affects breathing, the heart, even causes cancer in the human body. Children in areas exposed to air pollutants can suffer from pneumonia and asthma.

Global warming

Effects of air pollution

The direct impact of air pollution is a direct change experienced around the world due to global warming.

Rising temperatures around the world, increasing sea levels and causing the melting ice in colder areas and icebergs.

As a result, there is a displacement and even loss of habitat of some animal species. Plant species on land and water are also affected, especially by changes in temperature.

Acid rain

Harmful gases such as Nitrogen Oxide and Sulfur Oxide are released into the atmosphere during the burning of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.

When it rains, water droplets combine with these air pollutants into acid and then fall to the ground in the form of acidic rain. Acid rain can cause great damage to humans, animals and plants.

The effect of air pollution on human health


Air pollution is one of the big problems for human health and the environment. In fact, there is a presumption that outdoor air pollution is the cause of cancer.

However, cancer is not the only disease or health disorder caused by air pollution. Here are some of the impacts of air pollution on human health that are summarized from various sources.

Acute respiratory tract infection (ARI)

ARI is an infection in the respiratory tract, which causes symptoms of coughing, colds, accompanied by fever. ARI is highly contagious and can be experienced by anyone.

Based on NIH data, ARI is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality of infectious diseases in the world. Nearly four million people die from ARI each year, 98% of which are caused by lower respiratory tract infections. One of the causes is due to air pollutants.

Asthma or Asthmatic bronchiole

Asthma is a type of long-term or chronic disease of the respiratory tract characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways that cause tightness or difficulty breathing.

The narrowing of this channel produces asthma symptoms such as: shortness of breath, cough, and chest tightness. For someone with asthma, his respiratory tract is more sensitive than others who do not live with the condition.

Read more about What causes Asthma?

Wet lungs or pneumonia

Wet lung or pneumonia is a disease caused by infections that trigger inflammation in the air bags or on alveolus in one part of the lungs, or even both. Wet lungs can be caused by viral, fungal, or bacterial attacks on the respiratory system.

The disease begins with symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Not only older persons get wet lungs, children and the elderly can experience them.


Bronchopneumonia is characterized by inflammation that attacks the airways. Therefore, a person experiencing this disease can find it difficult to breathe relief or shortness of breath because their lungs do not get enough air supply.

The disease can be caused because your body is infected with viruses, bacteria, or fungi. But in many cases, bronchopneumonia is most often caused by bacterial infections. Bronchopneumonia-causing bacteria enter the lungs through the air or blood.

Heart attack

A new discovery indicates that breathing air, which consists of harmful pollutants, can lead to atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular condition. Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of blood vessels caused by the buildup of plaque in the walls of blood vessels.

Over time, the build-up of plaque in the walls of blood vessels thickens the arteries that limit blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen throughout the body. 

Atherosclerosis can lead to more dangerous cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease or peripheral artery disease, as well as heart attacks or strokes.

Last Updated on November 13, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

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