Effect of Air Pollution on Healthy Humans

Air pollution has serious consequences for human health. High levels of pollutants in the air put at risk various organ systems of the human body. These pollutants, inhaled with every breath, can build up in the body and inflict damage on organs. The respiratory system is especially vulnerable, which is not to say other organs aren’t affected. Practically every organ of the human body can suffer damage if exposed to high levels of air pollutants for a long time.



Here’s how various pollutants affect healthy humans:

Effects of small pollutants:  The small air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds can cause headaches, irritated eyes and throats. Eyes may start watering and develop redness and itching. People may also develop chronic cough.

Effects of large pollutants on adults:  Ground level smog is considered to be especially hazardous. A six-hour exposure to smog can affect a person’s lung function, leading to effects like coughing, chest pain etc. The following pollutants tend to be problematic for adults:

  • Nitrogen dioxide: The body’s ability to fight respiratory infections is lowered by Nitrogen dioxide. It also causes lung irritation.
  • Sulphur dioxide: This compound is responsible for weakening of pulmonary defenses, breathing issues, and worsening of symptoms in people who have cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases.
  • Carbon Monoxide: The concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air have decreased over time but its levels are still high and tend to cause neurological and visual impairments.
  • Lead: Areas near battery plants and smelters are likely to have high levels of lead in the air, which are known to cause kidney disease, anaemia, reproductive disorders, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Effect of Air Pollution on the Elderly

Air pollution is really harmful for the elderly, who because of their weakened immunity and mature organ systems are especially vulnerable to its harmful effects. Here is how air pollution can harm them:

Respiratory Problems:  High levels of pollutants in the air are responsible for respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis. Lung volumes in the elderly are especially affected and this can lead to a worsening of symptoms.

Immune System: The immune system of the elderly is already weak; with exposure to dangerous pollutants it can weaken further and make them vulnerable to various diseases. What the elderly need is healthy food and a dose of fresh air.

Disease Trigger: Air pollution can also trigger diseases or a worsening of symptoms. Pollutants in the air can sometimes trigger asthma attacks or obstructive airway disease.

Fresh Air Brings Longevity: Yes it is true. As fresh air is good for the lungs and body, it brings energy and thus helps in better functioning of the body. According to a study, fresh air intake for three months can improve life expectancy by 1 to 2 years.