Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology

2012 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers

Air Pollution Sources, Statistics and Health Effects, Introduction

  • Roy M. HarrisonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_911

Air pollution has been a topical subject for many centuries. There are records of the nuisance effects of coal burning in London going back for hundreds of years, and the association of high air pollution levels with effects on human health has been recognized for almost as long. Urban pollution in the form of smogs arising from coal burning and industrial emissions, most notably in London, Donora (Pennsylvania), and the Meuse Valley in Belgium, was associated with marked increases in daily mortality and led to legislation which has, in the main, been very effective at improving air quality. Nonetheless, research over the last 2 decades has led to a change in paradigm in our understanding of the health effects of air pollutants. Whereas previously it was assumed that there were no-effect thresholds, i.e., concentrations below which adverse effects on health would not be observed, it is now recognized that for most toxic air pollutant s, there is no recognizable no-effect...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of BirminghamEdgbastonUK