Air pollution leaves a serious impact on human health. Prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution leads to a number of health problems. Poor indoor air quality affects your lungs and respiratory systems. The people working and living near the source of air pollutants, for instance, places that have high industrial and vehicular emissions, are mostly exposed to the harmful effects of air pollution. As per World Health Organization, approximately 2.7 million people die each year from the diseases caused by air pollution.
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Pollutants Present in Air
The common pollutants present in air are lead, nitrogen oxide, ozone, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and sulphur dioxides. These contaminants enter your body through the respiratory tract and gets absorbed in your bloodstream leading to a number of health problems. Lung cancer, paralysis, skin infections, COPD, asthma, and heart problem are some of the common health issues caused by indoor air pollution. Getting exposed to deteriorating air quality can also cause health effects like etc.
Most Harmful Diseases Caused Due To Air Pollution
There are several diseases caused due to air pollution. According to National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, long-term exposure to air pollutants increases the risk for respiratory diseases. NIEHS also reported that children and elder people are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution. Some of the most harmful diseases for human health that can be caused due to are:
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways caused by the exposure of high level of air pollutants like ground-level ozone, sulphur dioxide, fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxide. Air containing sulphur dioxide narrows the airways in the lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe and triggers Asthma.
Air pollution has an inflammatory effect on your heart and leads to chronic cardiovascular diseases. The pollutants present in the indoor air affect lungs and blood vessels around the heart. Prolonged exposure to indoor air pollutants deteriorates the condition of your arteries. Air pollution damages the inner walls of the blood vessels, thereby making them narrow and hard. The pollutants also restrict the movement of blood vessels, which increase the blood pressure and put a strain on the heart.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease, which is spreading quickly due to an increase in the level of air pollutants. COPD refers to the repetition of respiratory problems like bronchitis. Smoking has also been recognized as the primary factor in the development of COPD.
Indoor air pollution affects the entire respiratory system and also affects your lungs. Air pollutants such as free radicals, ozone, and metals damage the respiratory system. Ozone damages the air sac, also known as alveoli, where an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is produced. The airway tissues contain a lot of bio-activation enzymes and transform the organic pollutants into reactive metabolites. This leads to lung injuries, neuro-behavioral disorders, and cancer.
Cystic Fibrosis is a harmful disease, which increases with long-term exposure to air contaminants. This is also a hereditary disease that affects the mucous glands including the lungs. Thick areas of mucous in lungs allows several types of bacteria to grow there and this can cause lung infections and breathing problems to patients.
Air pollution also leads to lung cancer. Abnormal growth of cells in one or both of the lungs leads to cancer. If not treated in the first phrase, the abnormal cells develop into a tumor. This affects the primary function of the lungs, which is supplying the human body with blood and oxygen.
Ozone, which is one of the major air pollutants, strips away Vitamin E from your skin making it dry and lifeless. The chemical pollutants lead to oxidation damage, thereby leading to premature skin aging, dark patches and lack of elasticity. Air pollutants not only attack the surface of the skin but also accumulates a lot of toxins. These pollutants are potent skin irritants and have both long as well as short-term effects.
The brain depends on oxygen supply and 20% of the oxygenated blood is directly supplied to the brain, which comes directly from the heart to meet the demands. Decreased oxygen content in air leads to loss of memory in some cases.
If you have noticed an increase in headaches or migraine attacks, air pollution is the reason behind the problem. Not just outdoor, but indoor air pollution also increases migraine and headaches. Lack of ventilation, faulty HVAC system deteriorates the indoor air quality, thereby leading to severe cases of migraine and headaches.
In addition to the above-mentioned problems of air pollution, there are others as well and these are mentioned below:
- Premature Death: Breathing unhealthy air can shorten your life and lead to early death
- Cardiovascular Diseases: Long-term exposure to polluting air increases the risk of heart attack and strokes
- Low Infant Birth Rate: Inhaling polluted air increases the risk of low infant birth weight
- Irritation to Eyes: Exposure to polluted air causes eye and nose irritation.
How to Stay Protected from Air Pollution?
The deteriorating air quality affects both indoor and outdoor air quality. This is the reason why it is necessary to take the right steps to reduce the impact of indoor and outdoor pollution. Planting more trees, wearing a mask when you are outdoor, burning less fuel help in reducing outdoor pollution. For indoor air pollution, make sure you use an air purifier.