How can air pollution hurt my
Air pollution can affect our health in many ways with both
effects. Different groups of individuals are affected by air pollution in different ways. Some
individuals are much more sensitive to pollutants than are others. Young children and elderly
people often suffer more from the effects of air pollution. People with health problems such as
asthma, heart and lung disease may also suffer more when the air is polluted. The extent to
which an individual is harmed by air pollution usually depends on the
damaging chemicals, i.e., the
duration of exposure
concentration of the chemicals
be taken into account.
include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper
respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Other symptoms can include headaches,
nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can aggravate the medical conditions of
individuals with asthma and emphysema. In the great "Smog Disaster" in London in 1952, four
thousand people died in a few days due to the high concentrations of pollution.
Long-term health effects
can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease,
and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution
affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the
elderly. It is estimated that half a million people die prematurely every year in the United States
as a result of smoking cigarettes.
Research into the health effects of air pollution is ongoing. Medical conditions arising from air
pollution can be very expensive. Healthcare costs, lost productivity in the workplace, and human
welfare impacts cost billions of dollars each year.
Health Effects of Air Pollution
The human health effects of poor air quality are far reaching, but principally affect the body's respiratory system and the
cardiovascular system. Individual reactions to air pollutants depend on the type of pollutant a person is exposed to, the
degree of exposure, the individual's health status and genetics. People who exercise outdoors, for example, on hot,
smoggy days increase their exposure to pollutants in the air.
The health effects caused by air pollutants may range from subtle biochemical and physiological changes to difficulty
breathing, wheezing, coughing and aggravation of existing respiratory and cardiac conditions. These effects can result in
increased medication use, increased doctor or emergency room visits, more hospital admissions and even premature death.