How does air pollution affect us? Here are the environmental and health impacts.

Pollution is becoming a regular term that our ears are used to hearing. Every day, we hear about and read about numerous sorts of pollution in the news. One of these is air pollution, which can occur indoors or outside and refers to air contamination. Globally, nine out of ten people breathe polluted air, which is currently considered the world’s greatest environmental health issue, accounting for 7 million fatalities per year.

Related media: What Is Air Pollution And How Does It Harm Us

What’s Air Pollution?

Air pollution is defined as the presence of one or more contaminants in the atmosphere, such as dust, fumes, gas, mist, odor, smoke, or vapor, at quantities and durations that are harmful to human health. Even second hand cigarette smoke is now classified as air pollution. Forest fires and volcanic eruptions, however, have been causing air pollution since long before man evolved.

The respiratory tract is the primary route of exposure to air pollution. Breathing in these pollutants causes inflammation, oxidative stress, immunosuppression, and mutagenesis in cells throughout our bodies, affecting the lungs, heart, and brain, among other organs, and eventually leading to disease.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

How Does It Affects Our Organs?

Air pollution has the potential to affect almost every organ in the body. Some air pollutants, due to their small size, can enter the bloodstream through the lungs and circulate throughout the body, causing systemic inflammation and carcinogenicity.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Associated Diseases

Air pollution is a risk factor for both overall mortality and specific diseases. Stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, pneumonia, and cataract are the specific disease outcomes most strongly associated with air pollution exposure (household air pollution only).

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

There is also some evidence linking air pollution exposure to an increased risk of negative pregnancy outcomes. Other cancers, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and neurological diseases (i.e. low birth weight, small for gestational age).

Health Damages And Implication

Short-term and long-term exposure to air pollutants can cause health issues in both children and adults. The levels and duration of safe exposure vary by pollutant, as do the associated disease outcomes.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus | Big City Pollution

For instance, short-term exposure to high levels of particulate matter can cause decreased lung function, respiratory infections, and exacerbated asthma. Long-term or chronic exposure to fine particulate matter, on the other hand, increases a person’s risk for diseases with a delayed onset, such as stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer.

What Are The Impacts On The Environment?

Humans are not the only ones who suffer from air pollution.  Air pollution is harmful to the environment, animals, and even plants. It has the potential to disrupt the ecosystem. The soil becomes contaminated when the pollution particulates eventually return to the earth. Acid rain and altered soil chemistry brought on by air pollution can harm plants and affect their growth.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In addition, animals may experience respiratory, reproductive, and health problems as a result of air pollution. One of the main contributors to global warming and its subsequent link to more destructive natural disasters like storms and cyclones is air pollution.

Health Risks Due To Air Pollution

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to air pollution-related diseases. A person’s susceptibility to air pollution is also influenced by genetics, comorbidities, nutrition, and sociodemographic factors. A growing body of evidence suggests that air pollution may have an impact on childhood diabetes and neurological development.

Additionally, the poorest members of society frequently have worse health and less access to top-notch medical care, which makes them more vulnerable.

There is compelling evidence that lower socioeconomic status is associated with greater exposure to air pollution. Poorer people are more likely to live near busy roads or industrial areas, exposing them to higher levels of pollution.

Read more facts like this one in your inbox. Sign up for our daily email here.

The Factionary is ever ready to provide you with more interesting content for your reading pleasure. If you’re amazed by our work, you can support us on Patreon with a donation fee of your choice. Thank you!

Written by: Ileanwa Obeche, Wed, Feb 22, 2023.

One comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.