What are the effects of air pollution on the human body?

The effects of pollution are more likely to be felt by people with asthma, heart conditions or other breathing difficulties. These conditions can make them more sensitive to air pollution. But we are all affected by poor air quality even if we don’t experience any immediate problems. Ongoing exposure to air pollution can leave us vulnerable to developing chronic conditions with long term impacts on our health.

Infographic style image showing the short and long term impacts of air pollution. Short term effects include: headache, nose, throst and eye inflammation, coughing, painful breathing, pneumonia and skin irritation. The long term effects include issues w ith the central nervous system, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases (asthma, cancers), blood diseases and impacts on the reproductive system.

The short term effects include:

  • headache;
  • nose, throat and eye inflammation;
  • coughing, painful breathing;
  • pneumonia, bronchitis; and
  • skin irritation.

The long term effects include:

  • issues with the central nervous system;
  • cardiovascular disease; respiratory diseases (asthma, cancers);
  • blood, liver and spleen issues; and
  • impacts on the reproductive system.

Watch this video from the British Heart Foundation on air pollution and your heart!

You can find out more about the impacts of air pollution on the heart and circulatory system on the British Heart Foundation website.

Let's Protect the Environment Together logo
What do you think our environment should look like? How can we tackle climate change, improve our air quality, protect our wildlife, improve our health?

we thought you might enjoy these articles...

what’s a cup of tea got to do with air quality?

You know the drill: it usually involves a kettle, a mug, a tea bag, a spoon and varying degrees of milk and sugar. It doesn’t take long but what's it got to do with the quality of our air?

road markings showing cycle path

Do you know your Active Travel options?

Walking and cycling are good for our physical and mental health. Switching more journeys to active travel will improve health, quality of life and the environment...

Haze of air pollution over a busy road way

Should you be worried about air pollution?

What is air pollution and why should you be worried about it? In 2019 a Friends of the Earth report showed air pollution exceeded safety limits in nearly 2000 places in the U.K.

This campaign is supported by

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.