Jessica Hefes


Oxidative stress is a key mechanism behind the causal relationship between air pollution and health effects. The easiest way to describe oxidative stress is like this. If you bite an apple and you hold it up in the air it will go brown after a few minutes. There is decay in the fruits’ tissues because oxygen radicals in the air attack their cell membranes. The same principle applies in humans where oxidative stress damages organs and cells by the free radicals we are exposed to. [1]

Complex chemicals common in pollutant mixtures damage body tissues through oxidative stress because of the presence of several highly reactive free radicals. The free radicals lead to an inflammatory response in the lungs first then later extend throughout the body. [2]

See Also

  1. What does air pollution do to us?


  1. Three Scientists Define One Elusive Phrase, Greenversations, US EPD website, 22 December 2009 - last accessed 11/8/10
  2. The impact of air pollution on population health, health care and community costs, Department of Community Medicine, HKU, 27 November 2006 - last accessed 7/8/10