The effects of air pollution on environment

Updated March 23, 2017

The effects of air pollution are felt by almost everyone, especially in heavily polluted cities like Los Angeles. Air pollution not only negatively impacts health, it can also destroy the environment.


Most of the pollutants in the air are from human activity, such as driving, agriculture and industrial production, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The burning of fossil fuels contributes the most pollution of any activity.

Environmental Effects

The most notable and potentially dangerous effects of air pollution come from the greenhouse gas effect or "global warming". Carbon pollution traps heat in the atmosphere, increasing temperatures like a greenhouse. Warming temperatures might destroy many ecosystems, as some species depend on a stable climate. In addition, nitrogen or sulphur containing rain (called acid rain) damages plants and buildings.

Health Effects

Air pollution raises temperatures that breed mosquitoes, which carry potentially lethal diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Poorer air quality leads to increases in lung irritation and chronic respiratory illness.


While researchers know that air pollution causes negative environmental and health effects, scientists are not absolutely certain how much of current global climate change results from human activity. Furthermore, scientists are uncertain how the earth will react over a long time span and how much fossil fuel humans will use in the future.


The EPA recommends that individuals start taking steps to reduce their use of fossil fuels and the effects of air pollution by purchasing energy efficient appliances and if possible, cleaner burning fuels like biodiesel.

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About the Author

Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.