Health A to Z Last updated on 2021-02-26 20:46:15
5 Ways Air Pollution Is Affecting Your Health
- Dr. Abhishtita Mudunuri
- 2 Min Read
The human nose has over 400 types of scent receptors and can detect over 1 trillion kinds of odour. While walking through a garden full of flowers, this thought feels sweet. However, what we are most accustomed to, is walking down a road in the hustle-bustle of a city amidst the waft of vehicular emissions, unpleasant chemical odours, etc while longing for the smell of the mud when it rains. However, the effects of pollution go further than the foul smell in the air. Air pollution is a major environmental health risk and can have devastating, long-lasting consequences on the human body. The main sources include- industries, vehicles, forest fires, aerosols and radiation. About 91% of the world lives in places that have air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. This staggering figure translates into the detrimental burden of 7 million deaths per year that is owed to exposure to outdoor and household air pollution. While short term effects on health include headache, fatigue, irritation to the eyes, nasal passage & throat, cough, skin reactions, wheezing, pneumonia & bronchitis, long-term consequences of air pollution are often less talked about. Here are 5 harmful air pollution health effects you should know about-
Respiratory diseases like COPDParticulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, etc can lead to exacerbation of already existing diseases like COPD and asthma. They can, however, also be contributory factors to the development of emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, allergic asthma, etc.
Ischemic heart diseaseThe growing number of people diagnosed with ischemic heart disease is synonymous with increasingly harmful lifestyle habits, including exposure to pollution. Air pollution facilitates the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and high blood pressure.
StrokeGaseous pollutants and airborne particulate matter can have damaging effects on the circulatory system. Air pollution is one of the modifiable risk factors that contribute to the occurrence of strokes in the global population. This especially is riskier for those already suffering from heart disease & diabetes.
Cancers like lung cancerA toxic environment is directly contributory to the rise in cancer cases. While smoking and second-hand smoke are major risk factors in the development of lung cancer, living in a metropolitan city dramatically increases one’s chance of having lung cancer, despite not having lit a cigarette.
Reproductive systemRecent studies have found that the fertility of a lot of couples living in larger cities may be affected by rising air pollution levels. This is especially true with respect to male fertility, as outdoor pollutants have been shown to decrease semen quality in urban men. Additionally, air pollution is linked to liver, spleen and bone damage, as well as hair fall, acne outbreaks and allergic reactions. To stay safe and protect yourself from air pollution, make it a point to:
- Check air quality index in your area
- Avoid congested places
- Use indoor air purifiers
- Eat well and stay hydrated
- Wear a mask when stepping out
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