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Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health

Air pollution can cause serious harm to your lungs and other vital organs. Here are a few ways to protect yourself and stay healthy.

Why is it that you are fresh even after a long day of trekking in the mountains, and feel rather tired just waiting for your cab on the road? One of the main reasons for this could be the air pollution in your city. Recently, a 28-year-old woman in Delhi was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer, in spite of being a non-smoker and taking care of her health. The reason? Pollution! In fact, this year a public health emergency has been declared in India’s capital city. Bad quality of air does not just affect the lungs, but the brain, heart, nervous system, and skin. Here we talk about some deadly effects of air pollution on human health and precautions against pollution.

What Is Bad Quality Of Air?

Air quality is measured with the Air Quality Index (AQI), which has readings from 0 to 500. The measurement considers eight pollutants—particulate matter 10 (PM), PM 2.5, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Ground Level Ozone (O3), Ammonia (Nh2), and lead (Pb). PM 2.5 has different levels, based on the concentration of specs smaller than 2.5 microns in the air. They reduce the visibility, and together with other harmful elements, wreak havoc in the human body.

Anything above AQI 100 is dangerous for the body, but in India, the resting measure in the cities is 150 and goes above 400 in winters. This means that people in the Indian cities are breathing poison!

How Does It Affect You?

Listed below are some common health effects of air pollution:

  • Respiratory System: When breathing, the air from the atmosphere goes through your nose, mouth, throat, trachea, and eventually reaches the lungs. Pollution can irritate these organs by causing inflammation. For instance, dust, ground-level ozone, and lead can irritate the airway, causing the muscles around the trachea and throat to swell up, as the body perceives them to be an infection. This further constricts the airway and reduces the ability to breathe, and in some cases causes an asthma attack. For some people, pollution and dust may cause mucous, which arrests the ability of the lungs to filter the air correctly, making your immune system, weak. Smoke from vehicles has high amounts of human carcinogens that cause cancer.
  • Heart: Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and PM 2.5 sometimes pass from the lungs to the bloodstream, along with oxygen, increasing the toxicity in the body. If the toxins reach your heart, it activates your immune cells called macrophages. If these are created in large quantities, they can cause artery-clogging plagues, leading to heart attacks in the long run. Additionally, if a part of the plaque is broken off, it can create a blood clot in the body, leading to stroke.
  • Brain: If air pollution has a serious impact on the heart and lungs you can imagine what it does to your brain. You don’t get enough oxygen and blood flow to your brain in the long run. This causes nervous system damage, reduced IQ, anxiety, and behavioral problems. Another serious effect of pollution on your brain is an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Skin: The particles in the air tend to make your skin dull externally, and due to weakened immunity and lack of oxygen, air pollution harms the skin internally. You are likely to see signs of premature aging, scaly and dry skin, acne, and pigmentation due to disrupted melanin and harmful UV rays.

Besides these major issues, bad air quality can be the cause of constant fatigue, issues in conceiving and miscarriages, and chronic illness.

What Can You Do?

  • Stay Indoors: When the outside air quality is bad, stay at home and use an air filter if possible. While you might not be able to avoid work, opt for your daily exercise or entertainment options at indoor places that have a quality filter.
  • Cover Yourself: Whether dusting at home or heading out, always use a mask to avoid large dust particles from entering your nose and mouth. Additionally, cover your hair and your body to ensure minimal contact with the air outside.
  • Purify and Clean: A thick carpet or shoes tend to gather a lot of dust and sometimes absorb the air outside too. Clean your upholstery at home often, and remove your shoes outside. Ensure that you clean your home filters once a week too. Add air purifying plants to your indoor and outdoor spaces. Take steam once or twice a week to clear your respiratory system and soothe any inflammation.
  • Build Immunity: Air pollution tends to first affect immunity, so you must strengthen it with good food, workout, and nutritional supplements. For instance, try a bromelain supplement that is made with pineapple stem extracts. It is known to curb swelling in the respiratory tract. Additionally, curcumin derived from turmeric is excellent to fight infections and inflammation in the body. It further purifies the blood and lowers the risk of brain and heart diseases. Another magic supplement is glutathione. It is an amazing antioxidant that works internally to detoxify the liver and naturally lighten and brighten the skin. These magic ingredients act as a strong barrier against air pollution damage.
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