Air pollution and lung health don’t go well together. With winters approaching, the air becomes drier and lacks necessary moisture. This makes breathing difficult even for normal people. If the air is polluted, the problem magnifies. Those who suffer from respiratory issues find it even tougher to breathe normally and may suffer from respiratory distress which could also be fatal.
What is Air Pollution?
When the air quality dips because of various pollutants like dust particles, poisonous gases, and particulate matter, it is known as air pollution. Each pollutant causes damage in its way. For example, particulate matter is made up of fine particles that get sucked deep into the airways because of their small size and thus have the ability to cause more damage. Nitrogen dioxide is another air pollutant that can cause severe respiratory problems like asthma or COPD. Ozone gas molecules can irritate the airways and decrease lung capacity. Since air pollution is a dynamic thing, it varies according to seasons, the weather, area and even the time of the day.
Now that Diwali is approaching, due to the influx of traffic from nearby cities and the smoke from crackers leads to increased air pollution levels in the bigger cities. Those cities that are in north India suffer more as they also face the onslaught of winter fog. The pollutants combine with the fog and envelope the cities in a thick, suffocating blanket known as smog.
Air Pollution and Lung Cancer
Since the day a connection was discovered between smoking and lung cancer, there have been rarely any new developments on the other contributing causes towards lung cancer. However, recent research has found an undeniable connection between air pollution and lung cancer. Those who are non-smokers but stay in the more polluted cities of the world are falling prey to cancer due to low air quality.
Effects of Air Pollution
There are short-term and long-term effects of being exposed to a steep concentration of pollutants. Some of them are:
- Shortness of breath
- Irritated air passageways
- Lung Cancer
Air Pollution Is More Harmful to The Children
The children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution because of many reasons. They tend to breathe through their mouths rather than the nose which acts as an efficient filter. Mouth breathing leads to deeper penetration of the pollutants into the airways of the lungs making them prey to asthma and other respiratory infections. The surface area of the lungs in kids is more, and they inhale more air than the adults and, therefore, they are more at risk of respiratory problems. Compared to other age groups, kids are more outdoorsy, especially in the warmer months or noon when the concentration of ozone pollutants is the highest. Their immune systems aren’t as toughened to deal with the adverse effects of such harmful pollutants like nitrogen dioxide or Sulphur dioxide. Their bodies can’t just detoxify themselves.
How to Reduce the Damage Caused by Air Pollution
If someone cannot move to an area with low levels of air pollution, there are certain steps one could take to reduce the damage caused daily.
- Reduce foray in the polluted environment during the early evenings. If you exercise outdoors, move indoors to a gym or try exercising in the early morning hours.
- Always Keep the inhaler handy.
- Take preventive medication if you have asthma.
- Don’t venture out during the rush hour when the traffic and the pollution caused by it are at its worst. If you cannot avoid that, stay off the main road and find alternate routes to reach your destination.
- Many plants purify the air. Grow them abundantly at home and in your office workspace.