Air quality

The causes and health effects of air pollution

Causes of air pollution

Common causes of air pollution are:

  • motor vehicle exhaust
  • industrial combustion (e.g. burning coal)
  • fires (bonfires, forest fires etc.)
  • agriculture, primarily livestock manure/slurry management and fertilisers

Read more about causes of pollution from DEFRA (link opens in new window).

Health effects of air pollution

Generally if you are in a good state of health, moderate air pollution levels are unlikely to have any serious short term effects.

However, elevated levels and/or long term exposure to air pollution can lead to more serious symptoms and conditions affecting human health.

This mainly affects the respiratory and inflammatory systems but can also lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer. People with lung or heart conditions may be more susceptible to the effects of air pollution.

Read more about health effects of air pollution from DEFRA (link opens in new window).