Changes in the state of the environment will affect circumstances ofhuman life. Important social components as health and well-being but also economic conditions are closely related to an intact environment. For example, a pollution of soil and water can cause serious diseases and high restoration costs. The degradation of usable land leads to a decreased provision of ecosystem services (e.g., production of goods, regulation of natural processes) which reduces social and economic values.

The reaction of impact indicators is often delayed because they act in response to changes in the environmental state variables. To define proper and direct relationships between pressures, states, and impacts can be difficult because of these delays and due to the great number of possible indirect and nonenvironmental effects. Hence, assessments of impacts within the DPSIR approach deals with a high degree of conceptual and nonquantitative modeling. Nevertheless, impact indicators have an exceptional importance for management and decision making because they are directly illustrating environmental and societal consequences of human actions.

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