Why Is Air Quality Important?
Health Effects of Air Pollution
Air pollution causes a variety of effects on human health, and is associated with respiratory and cardiovascular effects as well as premature death.
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Upper respiratory infections
- Allergic reactions
- Worsen asthma and emphysema
- Aggravate exiting heart disease
- Chronic respiratory disease
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
- Damage to lungs, brain, and nerves
- Birth defects
- Skin cancer
Economic Impacts of Air Pollution
Because air pollution has negative effects on people’s health, it also impacts our economy through lost work and school days and increased medical bills. Agricultural crops and commercial forest yields are also damaged, which results in lost revenue for these economic sectors and increased prices for consumers. Air pollution reduces visibility and even interferes with aviation. Air pollution can also damage our built environment such as buildings, monuments, and statues.
In addition to these direct impacts, if we do not meet the standards set by EPA, then the Midlands could be designated as a nonattainment area. If the area were to be designated nonattainment in the future, then additional limitations could be placed on existing businesses and new businesses may not choose to locate in the area due to expensive pollution control methods and higher operational costs. If the State fails to develop or follow an improvement plan, federal highway funding could be withheld. Additionally, the regulatory process for the area to be redesignated to attainment status is very costly and could last several years.
Environmental Effects of Air Pollution
Ozone can have detrimental effects on plants and ecosystems. These effects include
- interfering with the ability of plants to produce and store food, making them more susceptible to certain diseases, insects, other pollutants, competition, and harsh weather
- damaging the leaves of trees and other plants
- reducing forest growth and crop yields, potentially impacting species diversity in ecosystems