Air pollution is a huge problem that is a contributor to preventable illnesses. Many diseases stem from pollutants in the environment such as pesticides, vehicle emissions, and other chemicals that create a “toxic soup” in our skies. These pollutants can be detrimental to the health, causing respiratory illnesses such as allergies, bronchitis and asthma. Furthermore, air pollution breaks down the body’s immune system, making individuals more susceptible to health issues.
The Impact on Health By Common Air Pollutants
We are constantly bombarded everyday by pollution. So much so, that we hardly pay attention to how the outside environment is impacting our health. Below are common air pollutants with possible health consequences:
- Cigarette Smoke – Tobacco smoke contains a wide range of harmful chemicals that affects not only the individual who is smoking, but also anyone who is around them. Whether it is inhaled primarily or second hand, https://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/severe-air-pollution-may-lead-to-birth-defects-and-fatalities-during-pregnancy-study/ cigarette smoke is to cause cancer, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, burning of the eyes and nose, throat irritation, and impaired lung function.
- Biological contaminants- These are allergens that include include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen. The consequences of inhaling these pollutants are asthma, hay fever, and other allergic diseases.
- Volatile organic compounds – These are gases, or chemical compounds that easily evaporate. Volatile compounds mainly irritates the eyes, nose and throat. In more severe situations, these gases may cause nausea, headaches, and disorientation. Long-term effects include liver damage, as well as damage to other parts of the body.
- Carbon monoxide – Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, highly toxic to humans and animals. When inhaled, carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood. It can cause impairment to the brain, cardiovascular system, concentration, and reflexes. It is especially detrimental to pregnant women and their developing fetus.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself From Pollution
There is very little we can do as individuals to get rid of air pollution. However you can protect you and your family by taking a few proactive steps:
- Check out the weather report; local news stations usually report the air quality and when pollution levels are high. If this is the case stay indoors during those days. if that is not possible, consider wearing a mask.
- If you absolutely must leave the home when there is high pollution, limit activity to the early morning or after sunset. When the sun is down, there is less ozone levels in the environment.
- Avoid exercise or strenuous activity outdoors when air-quality reports indicate unhealthy conditions. Heavy and fast breathing leaves you more vulnerable to taking in more pollution in your lungs.