Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a class of oxygen free radicals or non-radical derivatives of oxygen with oxidizing ability. Utilizing ROS to degrade environmental pollutants is one of the greenest and most effective chemical means for pollution control and environmental remediation. However, there are different types and various generating-routes of ROS, and the mechanisms of environmental pollutant degradation and removal are distinguishing. It is significant to further understand the production and action mechanism of different ROS in environmental pollutant degradation and transformation. This article reviews recent research progress on ROS (hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion, singlet oxygen and hydrogen peroxide) for environmental pollutants removal in recent years and introduces several common ROS and their generating pathways and detection methods. We also summarize the applications of ROS in air purification, organic wastewater treatment, bacterial inactivation and finally discuss the major problems about ROS for environmental pollutants degradation and prospect the application of ROS in pollution control and environmental remediation.