The world today is passing through a stage where air pollution and its resultant adverse health effects is for real and cannot be ignored any longer. In the UK alone about 40, 000 people die a premature death every year because of this hazard. Even though strict laws and regulatory controls have been put in place by most statutory authorities around the world, the problem is very much apparent everywhere and on the rise. Crucially, it is not only the weak, the old and the infirm that are affected by air pollutants, even those in the pink of health experience health impacts during outdoor workouts and exercises.
What then causes air pollution and what are some of its various health risks that you should be aware of –
- Cause of air pollution – There are many reasons for air pollution but the most common is presence of Particulate Matter (PM) in the air. It is a complex mixture that contains sulphates, nitrates, smoke and soot, metals and tyre rubber. These can be either directly discharged into the air like smoke from fire or form from reactions of various harmful gasses let off into the air. The smaller the particles (PM2.5) the more dangerous it is as they can then easily get into the body’s various systems bypassing the natural defences.
- Health effects from air pollution – Immediate problems from air pollution include additional stress to the heart and lungs as these organs have to work double time to supply oxygen to the body and a range of other cardiovascular illnesses. It also damages cells in the respiratory system. Long term effects of air pollution are decreased lung functioning and loss of lung capacity, diseases such as bronchitis, asthma and even cancer and a shortened life span.
- Most susceptible to air pollution – Even though healthy people are falling prey to air pollution, there are certain segments of the population that actually bear the brunt of this danger. The old and the elderly, pregnant women, children under 14 years and those who workout outdoors fall in this category. Additionally, people with existing pulmonary diseases and congestive heart failure as well as lung diseases are more severely afflicted by air pollution.
On the plus side, there is a rising awareness now of the damaging effects of air pollution and measures have been initiated the world over to control this menace and make Planet Earth a safer place to live in.