Environmental pollution is an important aspect of the changing geography of the United Kingdom and one which has seen considerable temporal and spatial change in recent years. Its importance can be demonstrated by summarising some of the effects which pollutants can have on the environment. One of the more obvious effects is on human health. Accidental and routine discharges of pollutants can cause fatalities and human health problems which may reduce life expectancy. For example, cases of asthma reported by doctors, which appear to be linked with air pollution, have been increasing in the UK in recent years. Animals and plants are also affected by pollution; for example, various estimates have suggested that crop damage caused by air pollution is costing UK farmers well in excess of £100 million annually. Buildings and materials
are also damaged by pollutants, for example damage to UK materials caused by ozone(O3) has been estimated to be in the range from £100-£345 million (PORG 1997). The quotations at the beginning of this chapter suggest that UK pollution is still a serious problem in the 1990s but that improvements have been made in recent years. The objective of this chapter is to examine this suggestion in the context of the changing geography of the UK.