Emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NO) and dust from thermal power plants affect human health and the environment. Thermal power plants are the largest emitters of SO2. In the presence of other gases, SO2 forms Sulphuric acid and can fall as acid rain,causing the destruction of ecosystems.The human upper respiratory system is greatly affected by SO2;breathing can be affected by high concentrations of SO2, and respiratory illnesses are common among a population living in the affected area. If exposed to low levels of SO2 over a long period, the respiratory system’s resistance to bacteria and foreign particles is greatly reduced. Nitrogen oxides also have an impact on human health and environment, as it damages the structure of lung tissue, making it more susceptible to respiratory infections. NO also contribute to the formation of acid rain and global warming. The effects of exposure of vegetation to NO can range from causing leaves to fall, reducing growth rate and causing plant tissue to die. Dust emitted from thermal power plants also have a negative impact on human health, as the particles can be so small that they can be inhaled deeply, affecting the natural defenses of lungs.
The economic value of these negative effects is estimated at over 2 billion EUR annually for Bosnia and Herzegovina.