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  • Jelena Grujic

The impact of Air Pollution on our Health

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

Air pollution is a mixture of many different gases and particles from man- made sources that include vehicle exhaust, smoke, road dust, industrial emissions, and pollen. Exposure to air pollutants can cause various health problems - for people with asthma or chronic bronchitis; air pollution can make it harder to breathe, trigger asthma attacks, or cause wheezing and coughing.

Air pollution also increases the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, and more severely affects people who are already ill. Children, the elderly, and people in low-income neighbourhoods experience disproportionate health effects from air pollution.

Continue reading to learn how air pollution impacts our health and what measures we can take to care for our health and wellbeing.

Things that affect your exposure to outdoor air pollution On any given day, the types and amount of pollution we breathe vary by location, the time of day, and even the weather. Air pollution levels are higher the closer you are to an emission source.

For most of us, our highest exposure to air pollution occurs near busy roadways. But it could be a burn barrel or a backyard fire pit, too. Ozone is a summertime pollutant, and its levels are highest in the afternoon and evening.

We tend to think of air pollution as something outside, but the air inside homes, offices and other buildings can be more polluted than outdoor air. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentration of air pollutants includes radon, smoke, and lead dust.

Biological pollutants, such as mould, pollen, animal dander, and dust mites, may trigger breathing problems, allergic symptoms, or asthma attacks. Tobacco smoke contains 200 poisons and at least 60 chemicals known to cause cancer.

What can we do to diminish the effects of air pollution? Simple everyday actions can help prevent and reduce the impact of air pollution.

  • When in traffic, close your windows and set your ventilation system to recirculate the air to avoid breathing vehicle exhaust.

  • Choose driving routes that are less travelled, especially by diesel vehicles. Keep away from wood smoke, vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, and other airborne particles when possible.

  • Avoid prolonged outdoor exertion near busy roadways or on days when the air quality is poor.

  • Exercise is excellent for the body, but outdoor activities during days with poor air can be unsafe for children, including teens, who are more sensitive than adults to air pollution.

In brief, reducing pollutants in the air is vital for human health and the environment. Poor air quality has harmful effects on human health, particularly the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Pollutants can also damage plants and buildings, and smoke or haze can reduce visibility.

Indoor or outdoor, we should pay attention to the hot and cold air and the smells in our surroundings. Five reasons should encourage us to act against air pollution: it affects human health, children are most at risk, and it leads to poverty - the cheaper the fuels, the higher the costs. Finally, the right to clean air is a human right we should all defend.

Read more informative sustainability content in our free online magazine, Earth Mother Magazine. You can even download it as a pdf to read offline.


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