Oxygen-derived species: Their relation to human disease and environmental stress

B. Halliwell, Carroll E Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

532 Scopus citations


Free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) are constantly formed in the human body, often for useful metabolic purposes. Antioxidant defenses protect against them, but these defenses are not completely adequate, and systems that repair damage by ROS are also necessary. Mild oxidative stress often induces antioxidant defense enzymes, but severe stress can cause oxidative damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA within cells, leading to such events as DNA strand breakage and disruption of calcium ion metabolism. Oxidative stress can result from exposure to toxic agents, and by the process of tissue injury itself. Ozone, oxides of nitrogen, and cigarette smoke can cause oxidative damage; but the molecular targets that they damage may not be the same.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 10
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Cigarette smoke
  • Free radical
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hydroxyl
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Oxidative stress
  • Oxygen radical
  • Ozone
  • Superoxide
  • Transition metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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