How does air pollution affect our health?
Air pollution consists of small particles that can be natural or artificial. The range of possible pollutants means that air pollution can affect people both outdoors and indoors.
Outdoor air pollution consists of:
- particles from burning coal and gas
- harmful gases, such as nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide
- tobacco smoke
- ground-level ozone
Indoor air pollution consists of:
- household chemicals
- harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide or radon
- building materials, such as lead or asbestos
- tobacco smoke
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pollutants that pose the highest risk trusted source to a person’s health care:
- particulate matter (particle pollutants), which comprises suspended solids and liquid droplets
- nitrogen dioxide
- sulfur dioxide
Short-term exposure to air pollution, such as ground-level ozone, can affect the respiratory system because the majority trusted Source of the pollutants enters the body through a person’s airways.
Short-term exposure to air pollution may lead to respiratory infections and reduced lung function. It may also aggravate asthma in people with this condition. Exposure to sulfur dioxide may cause damage to the eyes and respiratory tract, as well as irritating the skin.
Research into the long-term health problems that air pollution can cause is ongoing. Research has linked air pollution to serious health problems, adverse birth outcomes, and even premature death.
How Can We Reduce Exposure?
People can reduce their exposure to air pollutants by limiting the amount of time that they spend in areas with poor air quality. It is important to be aware of possible air pollutants both outdoors and indoors.