Environmental Science

Impact of Air Pollution on Human Health and the Environment


Background of Study

The environment is an important resource that provides livelihood and comfort to man. From its creation, the environment remains indispensable to the existence and continuity of lives, be it aquatic or terrestrial. This holds true because of the fact that every living organism breathes, eats, engages in some form of recreation and generally survives through adaptation to environmental conditions. That is why paying special attention to the environment becomes indispensable because, without it, life becomes unbearable.

The environmental degradation occasioned by the socio-economic and industrial activities of man-caused great concern to all. Prior to the 18th century, cases of environmental problems were scarcely or seldomly featured in the world’s political, social and economic discourse. This was because human activities were limited to trade, commerce, and agriculture with simple technology. The world then hard rarely made use of combustible steam engines for human survival. Although it may have been on the experimental stage, it was not at the scale after the industrial revolution of the 18th century. Thus, life was simple, with no pollution and man was not exposed to danger apart from the war of conquest and minor diseases.

The period of the industrial revolution in the 18th century brought a new face of survival and socio-economic challenges. This is the period when human existence was becoming completely tied to machines. The function and utilization capacity of machines necessitated the invention of the turbine, which became inevitable to the survival evolution of man. This indeed marked the beginning of environmental pollution, with serious consequences on human health.

In this era of man’s civilization, virtually every aspect of human comfort was closely tied to the steam engine (turbine), including electricity generation, production, exploration of natural resources, agriculture, commerce and transportation, etc.

The pollution caused by the industrial revolution in the world, particularly air, constitutes a threat to life as carbon iv oxide Co2, Carbon ii oxide Co etc. discharge into the atmosphere impose negative effects on the lungs and respiratory tract. The incomplete combustion of gas in either automobiles or the internal combustion of steam engines caused some forms of diseases, such as brain damage and headache – globally.

However, environmental degradation results from human activities in Nigeria are featured prominently in the Niger Delta region and cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt. Here, pollution of various forms becomes part of people’s lives in the course of oil exploration. It is not uncommon to hear and experience devastating environmental pollution caused by gas flaring. A lot of lives, properties etc., have been damaged by air pollution.

Combustion from automobiles has an equally added burden on human health, and often, people fall sick because of fumes.

In Akwa Ibom State, indeed Uyo urban, the Central Business District (CBD), there are cases of environmental pollution caused by human activities. The epileptic power supply continues to sustain this problem. Virtually every house, church, school, office and business premise in our neighbourhood makes use of one electrical generating set or the other. Although other sources like refuse and poor waste management had been known to have constituted air pollution. However, the automobile and internal combustion of steam engines, like electrical generating sets, pump a larger percentage of poisonous fumes into the air and, as such, remain the main factor or source of pollution.

The toxic fumes pumped into the air have been known to have brought some forms of health hazard to the people. Thus, as a result, it has affected the physical, psychological and physiological disposition of the good people of Uyo.

Therefore, in recognition of this environmental problem that affects Uyo Metropolis, this research is conducted to find ways of ameliorating the problem. Thus, the study would to a holistic approach to investigating means of curbing the effect of air pollution on human health and making appropriate recommendations for a way forward.

Health, it is said, is wealth, and without it, the earth remains empty. Our environment must be friendly if we must have good health. Although promoted by nutrition, and physical exercises, good health can hardly be attainable if environmental problems like air pollution are not addressed. The environmental degradation occasioned by fumes from industrial, commercial, domestic and transportation activities affects health tremendously. For instance, carbon iv oxide is known to negatively affect the ozone layer and consequently cause severe heat to a human being.

However, air pollution following human activities in Uyo constitutes a source of ailment to humanity. This is because carbon monoxide, when released into the air or inhaled, can combine readily with hemoglobin and pose a threat to human health. Sometimes, in high concentrations, (carbon monoxide) causes dizziness, headache, nausea, tiredness, and even brain damage when inhaled for a long period. Fact, the alarming rate of health problems and issues in society is, to a large extent, traceable to environmental health hazards, mostly air pollution.

Moreover, preliminary diseases like loss of vision, abdominal pain, itching and even cancer are caused by fuel gases. Therefore, as a result of the above-mentioned problems, this study critically investigates the implication of continued air pollution on human health.


The following are the research questions for the study:

  • Does air pollution the cause of the poor health status of the people?
  • To what extent do fumes contribute to environmental health problems?


Air pollution is a serious environmental health hazard to a considerable number of people. This is because an autopsy of people who have died in their air-polluted cities shows dark lungs and alveoli containing numerous particles. Therefore, this research intends to investigate the health implications of air pollution and how it can be controlled. The main aim is to find out how the problem of air pollution can be tackled. Others include objectives:

  • To identify major sources of air pollution in Uyo.
  • To identify types of air pollution in Uyo.
  • To measure the concentration of such pollutants in the air of Uyo.
  • To measure the health effects of these pollutants in Uyo.


The study is crucial to environmental degradation control, particularly air pollution. The researcher would ensure that the outcome of the study goes a long way to helping solve the environmental health problem in Nigeria.

Besides, students from urban and Regional Planning and other related discipline would see the work as invaluable for further study. Again, the researcher would ensure that findings from the study broaden the scope of the field (Urban and Regional Planning).


Uyo is the capital of a geographical entity called Akwa Ibom State. Because of its status, it has attracted attention from all sections of the state and swelled the city with various economic activities. Here we have services, commercial, industrial and transportation activities. These activities, however, cause pollution.

As witnessed daily, services, transportation, and religious and domestic activities promote air pollution because of the intensive use of electrical sets. The fumes emanated from the usage of the electrical generating plant contained poisonous gases which are dangerous to health. Therefore, it is as a result of the negative effects of fumes on the health of Uyo residents that this research investigates the health implication of air pollution. The study would only be focused on health-related problems associated with air pollution in Nigeria, with Uyo being the case study.

In this study, one hypothesis guided by research questions would be tested. This is:

HO: There is no significant relationship between the pollutants concentration in the air and the health status of the people.

HI: There is a significant relationship between the pollutants concentration in the air and the health status of the people.


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