Air Quality and Your Health: How Do Pollutants Affect Your Well-being?

Air Quality and Your Health: How Do Pollutants Affect Your Well-being?

Did you know that 9 out of 10 people inhale polluted air?

No matter how wealthy of a community you live in, it’s impossible to escape air pollution. People will remain at risk while engines spew dirty emissions and power plants rely on coal-powered electricity.

Unfortunately, the health concerns from air pollution are also severe. Statistics show that 7 million people die from breathing polluted air. Much of which is caused by pollutants even inside people’s homes.  But what precisely are these air pollutants and their direct effects on human health?

Let’s dig deeper!

Different Types of Air Pollutants

The air quality and your health are closely linked. Access to clean air protects you from the harmful effects of air pollutants.

One of the most prominent air pollutants is particulate matter (PM) which are by-products of chemical and physical processes. These are especially apparent in big cities crowded with automobiles and massive power plants.

Coarse particulates or PM10 have diameters around 10 microns similar to a grain of baby powder. These particles can slip past our body’s defenses and penetrate our upper respiratory and circulatory systems. On the other hand, fine particulates or PM2.5 are only as thick as a spider’s web silk. The smaller air particles can access much deeper into the body, causing long-term health problems like asthma and heart diseases.

Sadly, other forms of air pollutants also plague the atmosphere which jeopardizes the air quality and your health:

  • Nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from vehicular emissions
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2) from burning sulfuric fossil fuels
  • Ground-level ozone that forms irritating smog
  • Molds and harmful sediments within our air ducts.

Effects of Air Pollutants on the Body

1.     Risk of dry eye disease (DED)

A study revealed that air pollutants are associated with DED prevalence, resulting in eye discomfort against light and chronic pain.

2.   Potential low birth weight

Fine particulates can affect both pregnant mothers and fetuses. The pollutants block the transmission of blood and nutrients to the growing fetus, resulting in lower birth weight.

3.   Exposure to respiratory problems and illnesses

PMs cause oxidative stress asnd inflammation to the body’s respiratory system which leads to wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Moreover, air pollution lowers the body’s defenses resulting in influenza-like illnesses.

4.   Higher incidence of fatigue

People residing in air pollution-infested areas are more likely to experience fatigue due to PMs and NO2, according to experts.

5.   Decreased brain function

Prolonged exposure to air pollutants can damage the central nervous system which influences cognition in children.

6.   Increased likelihood of lung cancer

In extreme cases, lengthy exposure to air pollutants like nitrogen oxides can lead to chronic diseases like lung cancer.

7.    Cardiovascular disease hazard

When you live in areas infested with fine particulates, you’re not only at risk of respiratory inflammation but also arterial problems. Researchers found cardiovascular concerns related to PM2.5 exposure, lead to problems like increased risk of strokes.

The Air Pollution Problem in Florida

The busy state of Florida isn’t free from these pollution problems. Recently, the city of St. Petersburg uncovered a 2-decade-long oil refinery hazard within the premises. According to the residents, the refinery emits a stenchy odor that sickened the neighborhood. Talks of health and safety hazards arose when the oil refinery allegedly failed to address the public’s complaints.

Today, the current administration is moving toward installing air quality monitors to protect residential homes from further contamination. Even with current developments, the air quality and your health are still at risk. So it’s strongly advised that you take measures to protect yourself.

How to Protect Yourself Against Air Pollution

Florida is infested with air pollutants that will negatively affect your health when left untreated. Pollution can sneak up on you then finding ways to beat it proactively is the best protection, as they: prevention is better than cure.

Check pollution forecasts in your area via airnow.gov to know if the air is unhealthy in the community. Growing air-purifying plants like Dracaenas, Aloe Vera, and Spider Plants can also decrease the pollution in your vicinity.

It’s not enough to shut yourself indoors if the outdoor air is polluted. Good ventilation comes a long way in protecting you and your family from pollution. We highly recommend cleaning your air ducts and vents to make sure your home is free from harmful molds. Setting up exhaust fans and buying air purifiers will also help.

In any case, make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. Regular exercise can help in this matter, but avoid outdoor exercise if outdoor pollution is high. Moreover, ensure you’re in optimal health by keeping up on your annual physical examinations. Meanwhile, Reliable MD urges Medicare holders to observe their wellness check.

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