TABLE 4-6 Other Pollutants of Air Quality Identified by Environmental Protection Agency


Major Effects

Leading Source

Air toxins (188 in total, e.g., dioxins, benzene, arsenic, beryllium, mercury, vinyl; chloride)

Thought to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as birth defects or reproductive effects

Ecosystem damage (particularly freshwater fish)

Transportation, wood combustion, chemical plants, oil refineries, aerospace, manufactures, dry cleaners

Stratospheric ozone depleters (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons [CFCs], halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform)

Skin cancer


Suppression of the immune system

Ocean food chain stresses

Fossil fuel, industrial cleaners

Greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, halogenated fluorocarbons [HFCs])

Broad-scale changes in temperature and precipitation affecting agriculture, health, water resources, recreation, ecosystems

Sea level rise

Fossil fuel, combustion, landfills


Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1996).

(e.g., carbon dioxide and methane). As indicated, EPA has identified 188 air toxins alone.

Exposure to air pollution has a wide range of impacts, including respiratory illnesses (which result from ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and air toxins); child IQ loss, infant mortality, strokes, and heart attacks (which result from lead); skin cancer (which is the indirect consequence of stratospheric ozone depleters); and increased mortality (resulting from particulate matter, lead, and air toxins) (see Pearce et al., 1996). Ecological effects include impacts on agricultural, forest, and aquatic ecosystems. Airborne chemicals have both positive and negative effects on production of marketed goods and services. Ground-level ozone harms crops, while nitrogen deposition and carbon dioxide enhance plant and timber growth. Ground-level ozone and sulfur dioxide reduce crop yields and timber growth, while air toxins and sulfur dioxide reduce freshwater fish yields. In other cases, atmospheric trace gases have subtle effects that will occur far in the future affecting

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