Benefit: Air quality

The benefit of air quality arises largely from the avoided detriment. Especially health detriments can be severe and costly. Other avoided detriments are, for example, the weathering of buildings and other constructions such as statues, and detriments in natural ecosystems because of eutrophication or acidification.

The health impacts of air pollutants have been under active research in recent decades. Air pollutants have been studied to have many health impairing effects mostly related to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. They also increase the sensitivity to allergies.

Air pollutants increase heart rate, plasma viscosity and concentrations of C-reactive protein which all increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Nitrogen dioxide and fine particles increase arrhythmia, and the concentration of airborne fine particles have been studied to be often higher before myocardial infarctions.

Air pollutants increase changes in lung function both in children and adults. For example, the occurrence of bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increase. Asthmatic symptoms have been related to ozone but not to other pollutants.  

Especially the ozone and fine particulates have been assessed to have an effect on mortality. Some studies suggest that fine particulate matter decreases the life expectancy approximately by 1–2 years.


Brunekreef, B. &  Holgate, S. T. 2002. Air pollution and health. The Lancet. Volume 360, Issue 9641. pp. 1233–1242.


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