Air Clean Up
10 Ways Pollution Affects Your Body
Apr 08 2019 Read 885 Times
Over recent years, air pollution has become an ever-greater concern for the common man. The rapid advancement of technology and the role of digitalisation in monitoring and measuring air quality has allowed us to see with greater clarity than ever before how contaminated the air we breathe is. We all know that pollution is bad for us, but how exactly does it affect our body? Here are ten concrete ways that air pollution negatively affects human life.
The most obvious effect of air pollution is its impact on our lungs. As well as causing and exacerbating respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, it has also been linked to lung cancer.
The smallest particles of pollution, such as particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), are 30 times thinner than the width of a human hair. Because of this diminutive size, they can find their way into the bloodstream and block the arteries, as well as causing high blood pressure in children.
The blocking of arteries is a major obstacle for the heart to circumnavigate and can increase the likelihood of strokes, coronary heart disease and heart attacks.
There is evidence that air pollution can infiltrate the brain and studies have shown that it can cause poor cognitive performance in young people at school. Meanwhile, it has also been linked to an increased incidence of dementia.
Similarly, there is also a growing body of evidence linking air pollution to mental illness. A Hong Kong study from last year found a direct link between poor air quality and intensified mental and behavioural disorders, while a British study from this year found that exposure to contaminated air increased the incidence of psychotic episodes among teenagers.
The presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the air is the chief contaminant responsible for irritating existing skin conditions such as acne and eczema, as well as accelerating the signs of premature aging such as wrinkles, crow’s feet and discolouration.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is now the sixth fastest growing cause of death, responsible for 2.4 million mortalities each year. A study from last year points to a link between exposure to air pollution and damage to inner organs like the kidneys, though the exact mechanics are not yet fully understood.
A December 2017 study from Taiwan found that men who were exposed to high levels of PM2.5 in the air over a prolonged period were more likely to suffer from poor quality sperm, increasing their chances of becoming infertile.
It’s not just your own body that can be compromised by poor air quality, either. Pregnant women could be endangering the health of their unborn sons or daughters by inhaling toxic air, with exposure linked to increased incidences of such diverse problems as hypertension, asthma and low birth weights.
There is increasing evidence that children who are exposed to excessive levels of air quality between the ages of zero and one are more likely to suffer from obesity later in their childhood. What’s more, obesity itself is likely to exacerbate the danger of contracting other illnesses linked to air pollution, creating a vicious cycle of harm.
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