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Environmental Pollution Effects on Health


Humans do not live in a vacuum but in a damaged environment that impacts individuals’ health every second of their existence. People cannot avoid air as they must breathe, water as they must drink, or land as they must eat what is grown in it. When polluted substances from the environment come to a human’s organism, they affect its health system causing various illnesses, diseases, and development abnormalities. Environmental pollution varies in forms but influences all people leading to physical, psychological, and behavioral harmful effects.

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Physical Effects

Contaminated environment causes physical disabilities due to humans’ interaction with it.

For example, lead emissions that come to the environment from “ore and metals processing”, “leaded aviation gasoline”, “manufacturing batteries”, “coal burning”, “typecasting”, and “older housings” are extremely dangerous when absorbed by a human body as lead “cannot be decomposed by microorganisms” (Zhang, Wilson, Hou, & Meng, 2015, p. 21). Hence, lead damages a human’s neurological, hematological, immunological, and reproductive systems causing physical disabilities.

Moreover, even low concentration of lead hurts children when their body is exposed to toxic nature of lead. According to Zhang et al. (2015), lead causes “lowered intelligence quotient”, “learning deficiency”, “cognitive deficits”, “lower vocabulary and grammatical-reasoning ability”, “longer reaction time”, “poorer hand-eye coordination”(p. 22). Therefore, children received lead toxins in their body experience neurological disabilities resulting in problems at school, low performance, difficulties with motivation and lack of concentration.

Finally, air pollution that is impossible to avoid can be fatal. According to Anders, Thundiyil, and Stolbach (2012), particulate matter (PM) in the air “contributes to approximately 800,000 premature deaths each year, ranking it the 13th leading cause of mortality worldwide (p. 166).

In addition, “acute exposure to PM causes changes in coagulation and platelet activation providing a more proximal link between PM and coronary artery disease” (Anders, Thundiyil, & Stolbach, 2012, p. 168). Hence, PM severely damages cardiovascular and respiratory systems of humans affected by air pollution increasing human mortality.

Psychological Effects

Psychological balance of a human is disrupted by noise pollution, for example. If noise level exceeds certain norms, it is called noise pollution. Hence, “continuous noise of level greater than 30 dB” causes problems with falling asleep and having a deep sleep (Shahid & Bashir, 2013, p. 43). Hence, lack of sleep significantly lowers work or study performance of people exposed to noise pollution.

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Moreover, constant noise makes a human easily annoyed, irritated, and even aggressive. According to Shahid and Bashir (2013), indirect effects of noise pollution result in “lack of peace of mind, enjoyment of one’s own property and the enjoyment of loneliness” (p. 42). Thus, noise pollution causes psychological discomfort for those imposed to it.

Furthermore, excessive noise disturbs communication process. Speech interference affects concentration and leads to “fatigue, uncertainty and lack of self-confidence, irritation, misunderstandings, decreased working capacity and problem in human relations” (Shahid & Bashir, 2013, p. 42). Therefore people are psychologically affected by noise pollution when noise level exceeds norms.

Behavioral Effects

Environmental pollution causes not only physical and psychological health troubles but also affects behavioral patterns of a human. According to Shahid and Bashir (2013), “direct effects” of noise pollution include “aggressive behavior associating with pre-existing anger and alcohol or other psychoactive agents” (p. 43). Speech and sleep disturbances caused by noise pollution also provoke harmful effects of individuals’ behavior.

Moreover, recent studies reveal connection between air pollution and autism disorder. Results of a study conducted by Volk et al. (2014) testify that “subjects with both MET rs1858830 CC genotype and high air pollutant exposures were at increased risk of autism spectrum disorder compared with subjects who had both the CG/GG” (p. 44).

Although “complex phenotypic presentation’ of autism disorders suggested “multiple genetic and environmental factors contribute to risk” before, the recent studies showed correlation between air pollution and increased autism spectrum disorder risk (Volk et al., 2014, p. 45). Additionally, in children “prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure has been associated with intelligence (IQ) deficits at age 5 years as well as with increased anxiety, depression, and inattention at age 6–7” (Volk et al., 2014, p. 45).

However, indoor PM exposure “can be reduced by the usage of air conditioning and particulate filters, decreasing indoor combustion for heating and cooking, and smoking cessation” (Anders, Thundiyil, & Stolbach, 2012, p. 166). Nonetheless, children living next to highways with high level of air pollution and particular matter are exposed to increased autism spectrum disorder risk.


Environmental contaminations such as lead taxation, noise and air pollution harmfully affect physical, psychological health and behavioral patterns of adults and children.

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Toxicant lead emissions cause physical and neurological disabilities leading to illnesses for adults and children. Moreover, noise pollution results in sleep disturbance, speech interference and emotional discomfort of individuals. Finally, air contamination put children to a higher risk of autism spectrum disorders. Therefore, there is an evident correlation between pollution and health problems caused by today’s air, water, land, and noise contaminations, which affect health of all human beings.


Anders, J., Thundiyil, J., & Stolbach, A. (2012). Clearing the air: A review of the effects of particulate matter air pollution on human health. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 8(2), 166–175.

Shahid, M. A. K., & Bashir, H. (2013). Psychological and physiological effects of noise pollution on the residents of major cities of Punjab (Pakistan). Peak Journal of Physical and Environmental Science Research, 1(4), 41-50.

Volk, H. E., Kerin, T., Lurmann, F., Hertz-Picciotto, I., McConnell, R., & Campbell, D. B. (2014). Autism spectrum disorder: interaction of air pollution with the MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene. Epidemiology, 25(1), 44-47.

Zhang, R., Wilson, V. L., Hou, A., & Meng, G. (2015). Source of lead pollution, its influence on public health and the countermeasures. International Journal of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety, 2(1), 18-31.

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