High levels of air pollution can cause an increased risk of heart attack, wheezing, coughing, and breathing problems, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Air pollution can also cause worsening of existing heart problems, asthma, and other lung complications.
Like humans, animals can suffer from a number of health problems due to air pollution, including birth defects, reproductive failure, and diseases.
Air pollution causes a number of environmental effects in addition to the effects on humans and animals.
Acid rain contains high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids that are created by oxides and sulfur oxides released into the air by the burning of fossil fuels. Acid rain damages trees and acidifies soils and water bodies, making the water too acidic for fish and other aquatic life.
Nitrogen oxides released into the air by the burning of fossil fuels also contribute to the nitrogen responsible for toxic algae blooms.
The release of man-made compounds including hydrochlorofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, and halons formerly used as coolants, foaming agents, pesticides, solvents, aerosol propellants, and fire-extinguishers are depleting the ozone. The ozone layer in the stratosphere forms a protective layer that reflects harmful ultraviolet rays back into space that would otherwise destroy animal and plant life.