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Air Pollution

Environmental and Ecotoxicology

  1. Robert L. Maynard CBE, BSc, MB, BCh, FRCP, FRCPath, FFOM, FIBiol

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat089

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Maynard, R. L. 2009. Air Pollution. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. Health Protection Agency, Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Air pollution science has undergone a renaissance in the last two decades. Common air pollutants are now known to have effects on health at low concentrations such as occur in many developed countries. Epidemiological studies have led to this new appreciation, toxicological studies have tended to lag behind. Particles have attracted much attention and current attention is focused on particles of very small diameter. Both short term variation in concentrations of, and long term exposure to particles have been shown to have effects on range of health end-points including premature death, hospital admissions and symptoms. That such low concentrations, indeed there is no discernable threshold, should have effects has been difficult to explain toxicologically. Recent work, however, has shown that effects on the cardiovascular system, perhaps due to metallic species included in or on particles may explain the effects. Work on gases has lagged a little behind that on particles but work on the oxidative properties of ozone and nitrogen dioxide and the finding that concentrations of ozone are increasing, in part due to climate change, is now leading to increased interest in these pollutants. Air pollution science is developing rapidly and is receiving further stimulus from new work in the nano-toxicology area. That further advances will be made in the coming decade is certain.


  • air pollution;
  • particles;
  • ozone;
  • nitrogen dioxide;
  • sulphur dioxide