- Health effects - Carcinogenic or toxic effects - Effect on plants - Aesthetics and visibility
Air pollutants can have serious human health effects such as asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
This is common in urban areas where people are exposed to sulfur and primary air pollutants. Children, the elderly, and people with COPD or heart disease are most susceptible to air pollutants.
Some air pollutants like benzene are carcinogenic. Benzene is used in motor fuel and in the manufacture of detergents, explosives and pharmaceuticals. Benzene is linked to leukemia and damage to the immune system.
Others like mercury can cause neurological disorders. Mercury has seeped into waters, contaminating fish.
Plants and flora are more sensitive to air pollutants than human beings. Large areas of land and vegetation were completely destroyed before emissions were controlled.
Crop damage, forest damage, loss of trees, and loss of wild plants are common. Exposure to ozone has impacted some crops more than others. Loss of trees and plants in turn affect animals, birds and fish that have died or declined in large numbers as well.
Air pollution also has a negative aesthetic effect. It is visible and can block sunlight and turn a blue sky into a gray haze.
Particles settle on walls, windows and exposed surfaces, turning them gray and dingy.
Some historical monuments that have lasted hundreds of years are corroded through acid precipitation, and others are crumbling. Due to weather currents and movement, acid precipitation is carried from one area to the next. So Canada receives acid precipitation from the United States and Scandinavia gets acid precipitation from Great Britain.