Levoit Blog

Air, Animals, and Plants: How Air Quality Affects Life Around Us

  • 1 min read

Wildlife & the Air Around Us 

Few things are more important than the air we breathe. The air around us has an important effect on our bodies, but it also has a dramatic effect on natural ecosystems such as forests, lakes, and wildlife. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), air pollution is not just harmful for people, but for plants and animals as well.  

How Pollution Negatively Affects Ecosystems 

While it’s true that some animals and plants are tolerant of high levels of air pollution, many may be harmed because of it. Here are some ways that air pollution negatively impacts our natural ecosystems: 

  • Sulfur pollution in the air can lead to acid rain and higher acid levels in lakes and streams, which in turn harms the plants and soil nearby.  
  • Atmospheric nitrogen has also been shown to reduce the biodiversity of plants and harm aquatic life such as fish.  
  • Mercury and other metal compounds are emitted as part of exhaust from fuel sources, which can eventually build up on plants and animals.  
  • Nitrogen pollution can slow down the growth of trees. 
  • Ground-level ozone can affect many important crops by reducing seed production.  

The Way Forward 

The Critical Loads of Atmospheric Deposition Science Committee (CLAD) uses critical loads—the maximum amount of pollution something can take without suffering any harm—to help determine when there’s too much air pollution in an area. Knowing the critical loads of lakes and forests can help us protect wildlife from things like acid rain and nitrogen pollution. 

In cities, planting more trees helps lower air pollution, making the air cleaner for people who live there. Trees also help cool the ground and air as well as muffle noise. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air and act as shelter for birds, insects, and other wildlife. With research into critical loads, we can determine what kinds of trees are most tolerant of high levels of air pollution. The CLAD urban tree guide can help you find air-pollution-tolerant-trees to plant in your neighborhood.  



Air, Animals, and Plants | NADP 

Ecosystems and Air Quality | EPA 

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