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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 671539, 22 pages
Review Article

The Protective Role of Antioxidants in the Defence against ROS/RNS-Mediated Environmental Pollution

Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Zdravstvena pot 5, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 21 April 2014; Revised 3 June 2014; Accepted 17 June 2014; Published 20 July 2014

Academic Editor: Felipe Dal-Pizzol

Copyright © 2014 Borut Poljšak and Rok Fink. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Overproduction of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species can result from exposure to environmental pollutants, such as ionising and nonionising radiation, ultraviolet radiation, elevated concentrations of ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, cigarette smoke, asbestos, particulate matter, pesticides, dioxins and furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and many other compounds present in the environment. It appears that increased oxidative/nitrosative stress is often neglected mechanism by which environmental pollutants affect human health. Oxidation of and oxidative damage to cellular components and biomolecules have been suggested to be involved in the aetiology of several chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and aging. Several studies have demonstrated that the human body can alleviate oxidative stress using exogenous antioxidants. However, not all dietary antioxidant supplements display protective effects, for example, -carotene for lung cancer prevention in smokers or tocopherols for photooxidative stress. In this review, we explore the increases in oxidative stress caused by exposure to environmental pollutants and the protective effects of antioxidants.