How Air Pollution Affects Our Health?
Air pollution is not only bad for the environment but also harmful to your health. Long-term exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of respiratory problems. The health effects of air pollution are also linked to heart and brain problems.
Here are a few of the ways how air pollution affects your health:
1) Increased risk of bronchitis
Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of bronchitis over time; it can worsen bronchitis symptoms as well. Nitrogen dioxide, a part of gaseous air pollutants, can cause or worsen bronchitis. It reacts with ammonia and forms small particles which penetrate the sensitive parts of the lungs.
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2) Worsening of asthma symptoms
Major pollutants in the air, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide can aggravate asthma symptoms. These gaseous pollutants are collectively known as smog. Smog also includes particulates such as smoke and dust which can worsen asthma symptoms.
The smaller the airborne particulates in size, the greater your risk of inhaling them in your lungs and worsening asthma symptoms.
3) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Air pollution (both indoor and outdoor) is one of the major risk factors of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Exposure to air pollution can also increase infants’ risk of developing COPD in later life. As COPD progresses, symptoms such as shortness of breath, persistent cough, wheezing, mucus in cough become prevalent.
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Steps to protect yourself from air pollution
It’s impossible to completely avoid air pollution, especially if you live in an urban or semi-urban area. However, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your respiratory health. These steps include:
1) Wear a safety breathing mask
One of the best ways to protect yourself from outdoor air pollution is by wearing a safety breathing mask (commercially available as an anti-pollution mask). Although this type of mask may not be able to filter all the airborne pollutants, it sure does lower the number of pollutants you inhale to a significant extent. Encourage your loved ones to always wear a breathing mask while they are on the road.
2) Use an air purifier at home
If you live in an urban area, near a busy road, use an air purifier at your home to filter airborne pollutants and improve air quality. Taking this step also helps you lower the risk of worsening of your or your loved one’s respiratory problem.
3) Clean AC filter regularly
Airborne particles get trapped in the AC filter over time. Make sure to regularly clean your AC’s filter to improve indoor air quality in your home. Also, get the AC’s air ducts cleaned professionally every year.
4) Avoid exercising in parks near to busy roads
If you exercise regularly, avoid choosing parks that are located near busy roads. When you are exercising, you inhale more air. And if the air quality is bad, you become more prone to respiratory problems. If possible, choose indoor exercising environments such as a gym or home.