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Health effects

PLVAD.jpgAir is all around us, as a vital but also as an influential agent when it comes to air pollution. As an adult breathes approximately 10.000 litres of air every day, it is clear that air quality is directly affecting our health.

Worldwide, air pollution is considered to be responsible for large numbers of deaths and cases of respiratory diseases. Today, air pollution in our cities is of great concern to the health and value of people, especially those living in urban areas. In the table below, a general overview of the health effects that the primary pollutants cause is presented.

This section is currently being modified. There may be disruptions or inaccuracies during the update phase.


Health effects when we have high concentrations of pollutants

  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)

These pollutants irritate the lungs causing negative effects to the respiratory system

  • Ozone (O3)

It destroys throat and lung tissues and irritates the eyes

  • Particulate Matter (PM10, PM2.5)

Fine particulate matter is transferred to the lungs, where it is possible to cause inflammation and aggravation of lung and heart related diseases

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)

It blocks the normal transfer of oxygen in the blood. This may lead to an important reduction of the oxygen that is transferred to the heart and may cause asphyxia

  • Lead (Pb)

Particulate matter that contains lead may be absorbed through the lungs in the blood and may influence the neural system and the bodys ability to produce blood

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Some of these compounds, like benzene, are toxic, while others, such as benzopyrene, may transform the body cells


Excessive exposure to particulate matter contributes to chronic respiratory problems and can increase the risk of cardiac arrest and premature death.
Several studies link particle levels to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits—and even to death from heart or lung diseases. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are considered to be more vulnerable than other people, especially when they are physically active.

Long-term exposures

People living for many years in areas with high particle concentration levels, have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis and even premature death.

Short-term exposures (hours or days):

Exposure to high particle concentration levels for a short time (hours/days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In people with heart disease, short-term exposures have been linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias. Healthy children and adults have not been reported to suffer serious effects from short-term exposures, although they may experience temporary minor irritation when particle levels are elevated.
Particles can stick to the surfaces of buildings resulting in blackening of the facades. Research is currently underway to elucidate the role particulates play in climate change.