11 Effects of Environmental Pollution of Human Health Explained

Effects of environmental pollution on human health include; asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, arterial blockage, skin inflammation, acne, skin cancer, dermatitis, optical/oral irritation, infertility and obesity.

They may be broadly categorized into cardiorespiratory, endocrine, and dermatologic health effects.

This article discusses the effects of environmental pollution on human health, as follows;



1). Cardiorespiratory Ailments (as Effects of Environmental Pollution on Human Health)

‘Cardiorespiratory’ is a compound term referring to both cardiovascular (heart-related) and respiratory (lung-related) concepts.

Of all types of environmental pollution, air pollution is the most commonly associated with cardiorespiratory health problems.

Inhalation of air that contains significant amounts of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) is a cause of cardiovascular ailments like arterial blockage [1], which increases the risk of a heart attack and death, in patients.

Respiratory ailments caused or facilitated by environmental pollution include asthma, bronchitis, and lung cancer [6]. These ailments have been found to share close ties with particulate air pollution, and may also result from contact with toxins through smoking.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is a respiratory ailment that is similar to arterial occlusion. It affects the lungs, leading to inflammation, and can result from inhalation of air pollutants [7].

Other respiratory ailments associated with pollution include bronchitis and lung cancer.

Pollution from power plants, transport facilities and other systems concerned with electricity generation, is a cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal [4].

Reducing the incidence of cardiorespiratory ailments in relation to pollution, is possible through improvements in technology, and by the replacement of conventional electric generators (which rely on fossil fuels) with renewable energy systems.

In the transport sector, efforts are being made to replace gasoline vehicles with electric cars and hybrid vehicles. These measures are all in line with the concepts of sustainable development and energy transition.

Effects of Environmental Pollution on Human Health: Arterial Blockage (Credit: BruceBlaus 2014 .CC BY 3.0.)
Effects of Environmental Pollution on Human Health: Arterial Blockage (Credit: BruceBlaus 2014 .CC BY 3.0.)


2). Endocrine Impairment

Impairment or disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system can be caused by contact with environmental pollutants.

This is due to the presence of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) in pollutants like pesticides and some particulate materials [8].

When these pesticides enter into the bloodstream or come into contact with the body, they can induce unfavorable hormonal changes that lead to obesity and infertility [5].

Other endocrine health disorders caused or exacerbated by pollution include prostrate inflammation and thyroid homeostasis.

Pollution can also cause endocrine disruption in aquatic organisms [2]. This can have adverse effects on biodiversity and may reduce overall productivity of the ecosystem.


3). Dermatologic Ailments (as Effects of Environmental Pollution on Human Health)

Environmental pollution can affect the skin, leading to disorders and other forms of ailment.

The most common effect of pollution on skin is irritation. This could affect the mouth, eyes and throat, among other body parts.

Acne and dermatitis are skin problems that could result from contact with pollutants in air and water [3].

Others include psoriasis, hyperpigmentation, skin cancer and eczema.

Contact with water that has been polluted by oil spill can cause dermatitis, while other dermatological disorders may result as a side effect of endocrine impairment.

Effects of Environmental Pollution on Human Health: Dermatological Ailments (Credit: Neeraj Varyani, Sunny Garg, Garima Gupta, Shivendra Singh, and Kamlakar Tripathi 2012 .CC BY-SA 1.0.)
Effects of Environmental Pollution on Human Health: Dermatological Ailments (Credit: Neeraj Varyani, Sunny Garg, Garima Gupta, Shivendra Singh, and Kamlakar Tripathi 2012 .CC BY-SA 1.0.)



Effects of environmental pollution on human health are;

1. Asthma

2. Bronchitis

3. Lung Cancer

4. Arterial Blockage

5. Skin Inflammation

6. Acne

7. Skin Cancer

8. Dermatitis

9. Optical/Oral Irritation

10. Infertility

11. Obesity



1). Basith, S.; Manavalan, B.; Shin, T. H.; Park, C. B.; Lee, W.; Kim, J.; Lee, G. (2022). “The Impact of Fine Particulate Matter 2.5 on the Cardiovascular System: A Review of the Invisible Killer.” Nanomaterials 2022, 12(15), 2656. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/nano12152656. (Accessed 27 October 2022).

2). Darbre, P. D. (2018). “Overview of air pollution and endocrine disorders.” International Journal of General Medicine Volume 11:191-207. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S102230. (Accessed 26 October 2022).

3). Denisow-Pietrzyk, M. (2021). “Human Skin Reflects Air Pollution – a Review of the Mechanisms and Clinical Manifestations of Environment-Derived Skin Pathologies.” Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 30(4). Available at: https://doi.org/10.15244/pjoes/130525. (Accessed 27 October 2022).

4). Elenwo, E. I.; Ebe, G. U. (2019). “Carbon Monoxide Emissions Effects from Power Generating Plants on Residents of Port Harcourt Metropolis, Rivers State Nigeria.” International Journal of Sciences 5(01):25-36. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18483/ijSci.1823. (Accessed 27 October 2022).

5). Kumar, M.; Sarma, D. V.; Shubham, S.; Kumawat, M.; Verma, V.; Prakash, A.; Tiwari, R. (2020). “Environmental Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical Exposure: Role in Non-Communicable Diseases.” Frontiers in Public Health 8:553850. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.553850. (Accessed 26 October 2022).

6). Salameh, P.; Salamé, J.; Khayat, G.; Akhdar, A.; Ziadeh, C.; Azizi, S.; Khoury, F.; Akiki, Z.; Abbas, L. A.; Nasser, Z.; Saadeh, D.; Waked, M. (2012). “Exposure to Outdoor Air Pollution and Chronic Bronchitis in Adults: A Case-Control Study.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 3(4):165-77. (Accessed 27 October 2022).

7). Tahery, N.; Zarea, K.; Cheraghi, M.; Hatamzadeh, N.; Farhadi, M.; Dobaradarn, S.; Mohammadi, M. J. (2021). “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Air Pollution: A Review.” Jundishapur Journal of Chronic Disease Care In Press(In Press). Available at: https://doi.org/10.5812/jjcdc.110273. (Accessed 27 October 2022).

8). Vlachogianni, T.; Fiotakis, K.; Loridas, S.; Athanasios-Valavanidis (2013). Environmental Pollution by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. Adverse Developmental, Reproductive and Immune Effects in the Wildlife and in Human Health.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237078264_Environmental_Pollution_by_Endocrine_Disrupting_Chemicals_Adverse_Developmental_Reproductive_and_Immune_Effects_in_the_Wildlife_and_in_Human_Health. (Accessed 27 October 2022).

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