Environmental effects of air pollution in Britain.

Published online
01 Sep 1990
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Woodin, S. J.

Publication language


There have been air pollution problems in Britain for several centuries. The nature of such problems has changed: intense local smoke pollution has been largely reduced, whilst total emissions of pollutants and their dispersal over long distances have increased. Ecological damage by air pollutants has been reduced in areas close to emission sources but has increased in remote rural areas. Air pollution has caused freshwater acidification in Britain, with consequent damage to flora and fauna. It may also be implicated in tree health decline. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia are an increasing problem, resulting in high rates of nitrogen deposition, which is affecting natural vegetation communities. Crops in Britsain may be adversely affected by ozone and, in polluted rural areas, by other gaseous pollutants. Acid rain is unlikely to affect crop production in Britain. Air pollution crosses national boundaries amd so air pollution problems demand international action. Ecological criteria are now being considered in the development of emission reduction strategies for Europe. Some emissions are to be reduced in Britain, in compliance with recent European Community agreements, but this may not be sufficient for the protection of ecosystems and organisms.

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