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How does environmental quality affect liveability?

How does environmental quality affect liveability? This article discusses the impact of environment on liveability.
Woman standing in the winter sun at a table near an outdoor coffee stand. She has a reusable cup in her hand.
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

Good air quality is essential for human health and the environment. Air quality is an important contributor to quality of life, and plays a role in the livability of our towns, cities and environment.

How does environmental quality affect liveability?

A range of elements contributes to the livability of a built environment: urban amenity, housing, transport, air and water quality, access to the natural environment, and heritage, social and aesthetic aspects. The environment is a key factor that determines how liveable a place is. Environmental quality can refer to a number of characteristics relating to the natural and built environment such as clean air and clean water. It can also be a measure of other things such as pollution, rubbish or noise in an environment.

Air quality, in particular, affects our health, the liveability of our cities and towns, and our environment. Adverse effects on air quality, particularly from human activity, can cause major health problems such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population. Air pollution is hard to escape, no matter how rich an area you live in. It is all around us. Microscopic pollutants in the air can slip past our body’s defences, penetrating deep into our respiratory and circulatory systems, and damaging our lungs, heart and brain.

Ambient (outdoor) air quality is determined by the types and amounts of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, and the processes associated with their transport, transformation, mixing, and removal from the atmosphere.

What other impact does air pollution have on the environment?

In addition to compromising human health, air pollution can harm the environment in many ways. Air pollution:

  • can contribute to “acid rain”
  • can impair visibility and damage crops and surfaces of treasured buildings and monuments
  • can damage the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.

Indirect effects of air pollution, such as climate change, are becoming increasingly evident. Transport is the fastest growing source of fossil-fuel emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the largest contributor to climate change.

  • Ozone pollution causes breathing difficulties, triggers asthma symptoms, and causes lung and heart diseases.
  • Indoor air pollution from biological agents in indoor air related to dampness and mould increases the risk of respiratory disease in children and adults by 50%.
  • Second-hand smoke causes severe respiratory health problems in children such as asthma and reduced lung function. It also causes lung disease, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and premature death in adults.

While indoor air quality is important, the focus of this course will be ambient air quality.

Join the discussion

Start thinking about the following questions and start a conversation.
Answer the following questions in the comments below:
  • Why is it important to solve air pollution?
  • Where does air pollution come from?

Use the Discussion section below and let us know your thoughts. Try to respond to at least one other post.

Now that we have a better understanding of the importance air quality has on the livability of our towns, cities and environment, let us explore the impact of air quality on climate.

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
This article is from the free online

Clean Air for Urban Liveability

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