Consequences of air pollution to our environment

Climate change

  • The climate is changing. According to scientists, mankind contributes for 90%.
  • According to the European Agency for the Environment, the first effects of global warming are already noticeable. Since the end of the nineteenth century, the Earth warmed at an average of 0.7 ° C, the sea water level rose by 10 to 25 cm, and the Alps lost half their glaciers (compared with 1850). The latest forecasts of international specialists (IPCC) on climate change from now to 2100 are even more pessimistic than a few years ago. It is estimated that by the end of this century the temperature will rise with 1.4 to 5.8 ° C and the seawater level by 14 to 80 cm.
  • The consequences can be disastrous: disappearance of certain coastal areas, increase of extreme climatic conditions (heat waves, storms, floods, etc.), increase in infectious diseases, extinction of a number of animal and plant species that fail to adapt to the changing environment. Disastrous consequences that no country will be able escape from.

Global pollution

  • The wind takes pollutants often hundreds, sometimes even thousands of miles away, i.e. long-distance cross-border air pollution. This is the reason air pollution is a global problem.
  • We have known the term 'acidic rain' for more than twenty years, but till date the problem remains. The phenomenon occurs when harmful gases (especially sulfur and nitrogen dioxide) mix with water molecules in the air, and form acids (sulfur and nitrate acids). When it's raining, these acids penetrate the soil, and pose a threat to plants and animals.
  • There are not only the consequences for nature. Acidic rain also plays a leading role in damaging a large number of materials such as stone, cement, varnish, etc. This causes slow but profound deterioration on our architectural patrimony. Historical remains are affected, leading to huge investments in renovation work.


  • The precipitation of nitrogen compounds (NOx and NH3) in the soil causes eutrophication. This causes a deterioration of ecological processes and cycles due to excessive supply of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus. The deposition of large amounts of nitrogen threatens the viability of forests, has a negative impact on agricultural crops, reduces biodiversity and leads to pollution of surface water and underground water layers.

Heavy metals and POPs

  • Heavy metals (mainly from emissions of combustion and industrial processes) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are problematic substances. The environment does not break down these compounds or only to a very low extent. They have a very long life cycle. Their cumulative availability and distribution continuously and progressively harms the environment as well as public health. They are often found in the food chain (animal fats).

Troposphere ozone

  • Ozone gas (O3) is present in both the high air layers (the ozone layer as we know it) and the air we inhale (troposphere). The ozone layer protects us from a significant proportion of ultraviolet rays that are dangerous to living creatures, but tropospheric ozone is harmful to our health. In peak concentrations it causes irritation to eyes, nose and throat, lung disease, reduced physical performance, etc. Tropospheric ozone also causes significant damage to vegetation and reduces crop yield.

Documents: Gewestelijk Lucht-Klimaat-Energieplan (.pdf)
Links: Staat van het leefmilieu
Photo: Pixabay







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Insight in Air Quality | Air quality, health and environment: Consequences of air pollution to our environment
Consequences of air pollution to our environment
Insight in Air Quality | Air quality, health and environment
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