Effects of Environmental Degradation on Historical Monuments

Effects of Environmental Degradation on Historical Monuments

There are various effects of environmental degradation on historical monuments . Air pollution is one of the major factors affecting the monuments and has led to deterioration of ancient objects. Pollution however is not only confined to ecological degradation but also cultural and historic aspects. The effects on such monuments vary from one environment to the other based on prevailing contributing factors.

A closer look at the effects of environmental degradation on historical monuments

Pollution negatively affects historical monuments across different parts of the globe. It is a major issue of concern and a threat causing irreplaceable loss of structures. Many monuments have lost a cultural and aesthetic value that cannot be equated to any price. This is why many scientists are very concerned on establishing the role of atmospheric degradation in destruction of historical monuments.

Taj Mahal  for example is one of the most significant historic monuments in India and it appears old and sick due to environmental degradation . It is a victim of air and water pollution. The paintings of the building have been affected by acidic rain and it is even turning yellowish. The whiteness of the building has been affected because it cannot breathe freely as it used to in the past.

Decay of stones

Due to environmental degradation, stones are decaying. Walls of historic monuments are decaying and losing their value. This further affects cultural, economic and social benefits that a country benefits from, from the monuments. Many countries have legacy structures from colonial and pre historic periods as well as modern times. Some are recognized as UNESCO heritage sites and are located in urban areas. However, they have been negatively affected by environmental agents that induce decay.

Acid rain

Acid rain is also a major contributing factor to environmental destruction and decay of historic monuments. Many buildings decay due to release of fuel emissions that contain chemicals that form acid precipitation when combined with air. Therefore, when the rain falls on the monuments, they corrode thus affecting their overall quality. It further dissolves the material causing a costly and permanent damage.


Humidity is another factor that affects historic buildings. Humidity offers an ideal environment for corrosive chemical reaction where there is no rain. Any changes in radiation in the same manner, temporarily increases temperatures on the surface of historic monuments and damages them. Some buildings have collapsed due to humidity, others have invisible art due to buildup of moles and others do not have their aesthetic appeal anymore.

Other environmental degradation factors that affect historical monuments

There are many environmental factors  that affect cultural and historic monuments and can be grouped into

  • Natural pollutants that cause instant damage and they include earthquake and floods
  • Physical pollutants including acid rain and air pollutants that occur as a result of industrial activities
  • Microbiological and biological factors
  • Complex factors and social pollutants that occur due to negligence, ignorance and mismanagement of natural resources

Change in temperatures and historic monuments

Change in temperatures has a significant destructive factor on historical monuments. They often cause fires and this is not a new phenomenon. They destroy buildings and cultural heritages. Chemical and acid rains also occur due to changes in temperatures and they can contaminate the air, corrode construction materials and historic monuments.

In conclusion, many historical monuments have been affected due to environmental degradation. Many buildings are made of limestone and due to air pollution, the stone changes to sulfate. Rain water is largely responsible for decomposition of many monuments as water penetrates into walls and pores.

Climatic changes also affect the monuments by paving way for microscopic creatures to penetrate the buildings. The effect of animal excrements on the buildings is inevitable as it facades them alongside wind and dust.

In the past few years, research shows that global historical and architectural heritage is perishing. Historical buildings that have been of great value have been severely damaged over the past years. With saturated air and water pollution among other environmental factors such as gases and smut, the monuments no longer have their aesthetic appeal as well as their historical value. Therefore, urgent measures need to be employed to restore the value of historical monuments.

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