Air pollutants: How they affect our health (2023)

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Air pollution appears to cause or contribute to a variety of health problems. The effects of air pollution on a person's health can range from mild respiratory problems to serious cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Harmful gases and particles in the air come from a number of sources, including vehicle exhaust, fumes from burning coal or gas, and tobacco smoke.

There are ways to limit the impact of air pollution on health, e.g. B. avoiding areas with heavy traffic. However, significant changes depend on improvements in air quality on a global scale.

In this article, we discuss how air pollution can affect a person's health.

(Video) WHO: Breathe Life - How air pollution impacts your body

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Air pollution is made up of small particles that can be natural or artificial.

Due to the range of possible pollutants, air pollution can affect humans both outdoors and indoors.

Outdoor air pollution consists of:

  • Particles from coal and gas combustion
  • harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide
  • tobacco smoke
  • Ozone near the ground

Indoor air pollution consists of:

  • household chemicals
  • harmful gases such as carbon monoxide or radon
  • Building materials such as lead or asbestos
  • Pollen
  • Schimmel
  • tobacco smoke

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pollutants thathighest riskfor a person's health are:

  • Fine dust (particulate pollutants) consisting of airborne particles and liquid droplets
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • sulfur dioxide
  • Ozone

Short-term exposure to air pollution, such as B. ground-level ozone, can affect the respiratory tract, since themajorityof the pollutants enter the body via the respiratory tract.

Short-term exposure to air pollution can lead to respiratory infections and reduced lung function. It can also get worseAsthmain people with this disease.

Contact with sulfur dioxide can damage the eyes and respiratory tract and irritate the skin.

Research into the long-term health problems that air pollution can cause is ongoing. Research has linked air pollution to serious health problems, poor birth outcomes and even premature death.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Exposure to particulate pollutants can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the WHO, air pollution causes43%of COPD cases and deaths worldwide.

COPD is a group of diseases that cause breathing difficulties such asemphysemaand chronicBronchitis. These diseases block the airways and make it difficult to breathe.

There is no cure for COPD, but treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

lung cancer

According to the WHO, air pollution causes29%from alllung cancercases and deaths.

Particulate pollutants are likely to contribute to this figuresignificantas their small size allows them to reach the lower respiratory tract.

cardiovascular disease

Research shows that living in an area with higher levels of air pollution can increase the risk of deathstroke. Air pollution can trigger stroke andHeart attack.

ARückblick 2018notes that the Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that air pollution was responsible for 19% of cardiovascular deaths in 2015. It was also the cause of about 21% of deaths from stroke and 24% of deaths from strokecoronary heart desease.

Early delivery

According to research carried out in theInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Exposure to polluted air can make pregnant womenmore likelyexperience premature birth.

The researchers found that the likelihood of preterm birth decreased as exposure decreased.

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According to research byInternational Agency for Research on Cancer, Outdoor air pollution is a carcinogen, which means it can causeKrebs.

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Polluted air contains separate particles and chemicals, each with different health effects.

Particulate pollutants

Particulate pollutants consist of a combination of different particles in the air.

Due to the small size of these particles, they can reach the lungs and increase lung and lung riskheart disease.

They can also cause worsening symptoms in people with asthma.

Ozone near the ground

Pollutants react with sunlight to create ground-level ozone. Smog consists mostly of ozone and is a major trigger of asthma symptoms.

carbon monoxide

Sea aArticle 2016, when carbon monoxide levels are below 2%, this gas does not appear to affect a person's health.

However, when levels are above 40%, carbon monoxide can be deadly.

The symptoms ofcarbon monoxide poisoningcould include:

  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • Vomit
  • confusion
  • AHeadache

If a person suspects they have carbon monoxide poisoning, they should go to an area with fresh air and seek medical help immediately.

sulfur dioxide

Sulfur dioxide is a by-product of burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

It can cause eye irritation and make a person more susceptible to respiratory infections as well as cardiovascular disease.

nitrogen dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide is present in vehicle exhaust. Gas and kerosene heaters and stoves also produce large amounts of this gas.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide can lead to respiratory infections. Typically, inhaling nitrogen dioxide causes wheezing or coughing, but it can also cause headaches, throat irritation, and chest painFever.

How can we reduce exposure?

(Video) How does air pollution affect our health?

People can reduce their exposure to air pollutants by limiting the time they spend in areas with poor air quality. It is important to be aware of possible air pollutants both outdoors and indoors.

Outdoor Air Pollution

Governments, businesses and individuals can all play their part in minimizing air pollution. Reducing emissions from vehicles and the concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere can improve air quality.

A person can also check the current air quality by using theAirNow-Website. This government service monitors air quality in the United States.

The website provides information on air pollution levels, color coded according to their potential health impacts. If the rating is orange or higher, people can help protect their health by:

  • Avoid walking next to busy roads
  • Exercise less time outdoors or use an indoor venue instead
  • Stay indoors until air quality improves

indoor air pollution

A person can reduce indoor air pollution by keeping buildings clean and ventilated.

Dust, mold and pollen can increase the risk of respiratory problems.

Radon gas can accumulate in houses that developers have built on land with uranium deposits. Radon gas can cause lung cancer.

A person can check for radon at home by using aRadon-Test-Kit. Alternatively, they can hire a professional to take this measurement for them.

Radon test kits are available in stores and online.

A person can use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor carbon monoxide levels in their home or workplace.

Carbon monoxide alarms are available in stores and online.

Air pollution can harm a person's health. It can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

A person can reduce the likelihood of health problems by checking the air quality in their area and being aware of existing health problems.

(Video) How does air pollution affect health?

Carbon monoxide can be deadly. If a person thinks they have carbon monoxide poisoning, they should get fresh air and seek medical help immediately.


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