Air pollutants, oxidative stress and human health

Mutat Res. 2009 Mar 31;674(1-2):45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2008.10.005. Epub 2008 Nov 1.


Air pollutants have, and continue to be, major contributing factors to chronic diseases and mortality, subsequently impacting public health. Chronic diseases include: chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), cardiovascular diseases (CVD), asthma, and cancer. Byproducts of oxidative stress found in air pollutants are common initiators or promoters of the damage produced in such chronic diseases. Such air pollutants include: ozone, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Interaction between oxidative stress byproducts and certain genes within our population may modulate the expression of specific chronic diseases. In this brief review we attempt to provide some insight into what we currently know about the health problems associated with various air pollutants and their relationship in promoting chronic diseases through changes in oxidative stress and modulation of gene expression. Such insight eventually may direct the means for effective public health prevention and treatment of diseases associated with air pollution and treatment of diseases associated with air pollution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / chemically induced
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / genetics


  • Air Pollutants
  • Antioxidants