Air pollution is the most severe problem that is threatening human health nowadays. Any imbalance or increase or decrease in the percentage of gases in the atmosphere can be dangerous. Air pollution in simple words is contamination of atmosphere by harmful chemicals and other materials released into the air. Inhaling this polluted air causes several acute and chronic health problems like a headache, asthma, lung disorders, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, bronchitis, high BP and irritating eyes. Air pollution also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and also infertility in women. Transportation and vehicles are the major contributors to air pollution, especially in metropolitan cities. These cause severe damage to the environment by releasing huge amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants into the air.
What is present in the air we breathe?
WHO (World Health Organization) has listed out six major air pollutants which affect our health differently and reduce life expectancy, they are
- Particle pollution
- Ground level Ozone
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
As discussed above, these different types of air pollution affect our overall well being differently. Let us in detail discuss how these affect our different body organs
- Effects of Particle pollution- These are the solid particles or liquid droplets raised from road traffic or dust that rise from different vehicles. These can range from minimum size to 2.5 micrometers to max 10 micrometers. When inhaled, these goes down by irritating our respiratory tract and affects different organs of our body and causes eye irritation (when coming in contact with eyes), mucous membrane irritation, damage our nervous system, leads to respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and others and also increase our risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack. It can also damage our reproductive system.
- Effects of ground level Ozone- This sort of ground-level pollution is mainly caused due to the chemical reaction between natural, traffic and industrial pollution in strong sunlight. High level of this ozone concentration leads to several health concerns like irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Excess exposure to carbon monoxide adversely affects lung tissues and lungs functioning. This mainly affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of all the body parts. Among children, this can even cause brain damage.
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)- This toxic gas is mainly released due to the burning of fossil fuels mixed with sulfur compounds. This gas leads to health issues like a persistent cough, headache, bronchitis, and others. This further leads to the formation of sulphuric acid which can damage lungs and heart health.
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – This toxic gas is high near traffic and indoor gas cookers. This gas enters lungs when we breathe and raises our risk of respiratory diseases like bronchitis, chronic fibrosis, and others. This also irritates eyes and even can damage the liver.
- Lead- Lead is the particles that are emitted from different vehicles. Lead particles entered our body can cause hypertension and damage our kidneys, nervous system and reproductive system.
Apart from the above health issues, air pollution also damages our skin and hair. Among children, air pollution leads to brain damage. Younger and elder people get affected easily by this pollution. Air pollution along with humans also affects animals and plants. We all can control the adverse effects of air pollution by planting more trees and most importantly use cloth masks to protect yourself, they play a crucial role in filtering tiny and harmful pollution particles.