Is Air Pollution Affecting Your Everyday’s Life?

A huge variety of particle pollutants and chemicals are released into the atmosphere all over the world every day. These come from not only fossil fuels, but also from industrial and agricultural activities. We all must breathe air to survive and thrive, and what we breathe can have a profound effect on our health. Consider these negative health effects:

Breathing pollution places someone at a higher risk for respiratory illnesses, including asthma.

After 6-7 hours of exposure to ground ozone, healthy lung function is decreased and respiratory inflammation ensues.

Most air pollution is comprised of carcinogens and those living in heavily polluted areas are at risk for cancer.

Living in heavily polluted cities can cause coughing and wheezing.

Air pollution can damage the immune system, reproductive and endocrine systems.

Higher incidence of heart disease are associated with high levels of particulate pollution

Air pollution lands onto water sources and plants, contaminating the environment and our food chain.

Air Pollution Covers the Earth

For most people in the Western world, air pollution is tolerable and doesn’t cause serious or immediate harm to their health. However, pollution can travel via the jet streams to areas all over the world, even to areas with strict environmental controls.

For example, China’s oppressive air pollution costs more than one million people their lives every year, and shows no sign of abating. According to a USA Today article, air pollution is increasing in the western United States, due to air pollution coming from China, other Asian countries and even as far away as India. In fact, the city of Delhi in India has experienced air pollution so thick, that it has the same effect as smoking 25 cigarettes a day.

Threshold Environmental

An ecological or environmental threshold is the point at which a comparatively small change in conditions can cause an accelerated change in an ecosystem. When an environmental threshold has been crossed, the ecosystem no longer is able to restore its inherent resilience. Crossing an environmental threshold can lead to a rapid and irreversible change in the health of an ecosystem.

Three Key Air Pollutants That Affect Our Health

The four key air pollutants that cause health risks are particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Nitrogen dioxide can have an antagonistic effect on lung function. This is especially true for children with asthma. Nitrogen dioxide is released when fuels are burned. Sulfur dioxide is released when fossil fuels, which contain sulfur, are burned. Sulfur dioxide causes eye irritation and respiratory problems.

Particulate matter is perhaps the worst type of air pollution. This is a mixture of both liquid and solid particles which remain suspended in the air. Likewise, the smaller the particles, the worse the health effects. In fact, the worst particles have a diameter of 10 microns or less. These particles can penetrate the lung tissue, and lodge themselves within the body. Prolonged exposure to particulate air pollution can definitely contribute to developing respiratory and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer.

Unfortunately, in recent years there has been an increase in particulate matter of fewer than 2.5 microns. These extremely tiny particles are very dangerous because they can enter the lungs directly by just breathing.

The major sources of particulate air pollution are:

  • vehicles
  • forest fires
  • power generators
  • heating and cooking
  • industrial and agricultural activity
  • manufacturing and distributing of chemicals

Tips to Limit the Personal Damage of Air Pollution

Wear a mask: There are several different types of air pollution masks, including simple paper masks to more advanced masks that can not only filter out polluted air but also supply clean air.

But an air purifier: Indoor air quality can be twice as bad as the air outdoors. While a good air purifier can be somewhat costly, it can be worth it if you live in a highly polluted area, or have bad allergies. Studies show that those who live in homes with air purifiers have fewer respiratory symptoms than those who don’t.

House plants: Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. Filling your home with houseplants can also benefit the air quality inside your home.

While environmental groups and government agencies around the world are working to reduce air pollution, it’s also important that individuals take personal action. Choosing to take public transportation and using environmentally friendly products can ultimately make a difference.

Leave a Reply