If you live in a major city, you have probably seen the low brown clouds that hover around the city. Additionally, you probably recognize the value in the clear unpolluted air that surrounds you in rural settings. While air quality has had drastic improvements in the past few decades, continued and increased use of personal vehicles and sustained pollution from the burning of fossil fuels can have you considering the impacts of what breathing in the toxins can do to your body.
It is essential to understand the impacts that pollution can have on your health to determine the steps you should take to avoid it.
How Does Air Pollution Impact Our Health
Several issues led to creating laws to help clean up the atmosphere. Unfortunately, these laws were developed due to the devastating impact that air pollution had on the health of many individuals.
Of course, it makes sense that breathing in toxins would directly impact the respiratory system. Air pollution has been linked to a variety of respiratory diseases, including:
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Many of these effects were noticed due to human activity that released toxic chemicals into the air. Recent studies have focused on the impacts of wildfires that leave many cities under clouds of smoke during the summer and fall months. Unfortunately, the continued exposure to wildfire smoke also leads to these issues.
Studies have linked air pollution to a variety of different cancers. One study found that 57,000 women who lived close to major roadways had an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Another study found that exposure to paint thinners and other aerosol products that contain methylene chloride increases the risk of breast cancer. Increases in leukemia were seen as a result of exposure to a chemical that is in gasoline. Additionally, a long-term study that researched the effects of coal generation for energy increased the incidence of lung cancer.
Cardiovascular disease is often associated with increased stress on the heart. Many different types of air pollution increase the particulate matter that we breathe in. In turn, this reduces the ability of our lungs to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. The lower oxygen levels in the blood require the heart to pass more blood throughout the body to meet our basic needs. While the body may handle short-term increases in workload, the continued increased effort leads to an increased potential for developing cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, there are options for many individuals to reduce their exposure to air pollution. This can include reducing the amount of pollution you put into the air, but you can also utilize filtration masks or specialized air filtration devices in your home and car.