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Health Effects of Air Pollution

Air Pollution Health Effects

Exposure to high amounts of air pollution may have several negative health consequences. It increases the chances of developing heart disease and lung cancer. Exposure to environmental pollution, both short and long-term, has been linked to adverse health effects. Extreme consequences and health problems are experienced by many who are still sick. Children and seniors are particularly vulnerable. The most dangerous toxins strongly correlate with an increased risk of premature death are fine PM2.5 particles that penetrate deeply through lung passageways. 

What effect does air pollution have on our health? 

Respiratory Disease and Lung Function

  •  Air pollution has been linked to the progression of emphysema, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Chronic bronchitis has been attributed to particle matters and nitrogen oxide.

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • Small particulate matter has been shown to affect blood vessel activity and accelerate artery calcification.
  • The NIEHS researchers found a correlation between postmenopausal women's everyday exposure to nitrogen oxides and an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Exposure to Traffic Related Air Pollution (TRAP) can result in decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein, or "healthy cholesterol," in a subset of older Americans, enhancing their risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • According to a National Toxicology Program (NTP) study, TRAP exposure often increases a pregnant woman's likelihood of developing high blood pressure, referred to as hypertension, a leading cause of pre-term pregnancy, low birth weight, and maternal and fetal disease and death. 


  • Living near major roads can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. This is from the toxic air pollution from the cars on the road.
  • Other toxic substances in the environment, including methylene chloride, which is used in aerosol products and paint removers, were also correlated with an increased risk of breast cancer in the NIEHS Sister Study. 
  • Benzene, an industrial chemical and part of gasoline has been linked to leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 
  • Between 2000 and 2016, a long-term analysis discovered a connection between lung cancer occurrence and increased dependence on coal for energy production.

Who is most affected by air pollution?

Although air pollution affects everyone's wellbeing, some people can be affected more than others. Air pollution affects almost nine out of ten people who work in metropolitan environments worldwide. 


The Children's Health Study at the University of Southern California, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is one of the principal analyses of the long-term impact of air pollution on children's respiratory health. Among the conclusions are the following:

  • Increased air pollution levels result in the rise of acute respiratory illnesses, resulting in increased school absences. 
  • Children who participate in many physical activities and reside in areas with elevated ozone levels are more prone to experience asthma.
  • Children who live along main roads are more likely to develop asthma.
  • Children with asthma that were subjected to elevated amounts of environmental pollution developed bronchitis symptoms more often.
  • Residing in areas with higher emission levels will result in lung damage.

What is particulate matter? 

Particulate matter is a concept that refers to airborne substances such as dust, ash, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Usually, outlets such as diesel engines and coal-fired power stations release high amounts of particulate matter.

PM10 particles are a health hazard since they may be inhaled into and persist in the respiratory tract. Particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and are the most hazardous to human health. Due to their tiny size (approximately 1/30th the width of a normal human hair), fine particles may penetrate the lungs deeply.

Air pollution is mostly caused by inefficient forms of transport (polluting fuels and vehicles), inefficient combustion of domestic fuels for food, heating, coal-fired power plants, cultivation, and waste burning. 

What will countries do to mitigate the effects of air pollution?

Reduced air pollution can be accomplished by developing efficient urban transportation, implementing solid waste management, access to safe household fuels and cookstoves, developing markets for solar energy and energy conservation, and implementing industrial emissions reductions.

How is the World Health Organization collaborating with countries to combat air pollution? 

WHO's primary mission is to recognize and track air pollution that has the most significant adverse effect on human health. This enables WHO members to concentrate their efforts on the most successful means of preventing or mitigating health risks. WHO's function is to study and interpret accumulated science data and consult experts to conclude how various air pollutants impact health and find successful steps to minimize air pollution. 

The World Health Organization's Member States introduced a resolution in 2015 to address the detrimental health impacts of exposure to air pollution. The next year, the WHO members settled on a journey to improve the global response to air pollution's adverse health impact, focuses on its efforts on four pillars: 

  1.  Expanding the body of information
  2.  Observation and monitoring
  3.  Leadership and collaboration at the global level
  4.  Strengthening institutional capability

Reasons why must pollution be addressed

  • Damaging to the world in which we exist
  • Contaminating our food and water
  • Triggering illnesses and cancers in humans and animals
  • Destroying the air we breathe and the ozone that protects us from toxic ultra-violet radiation.

Every living being must preserve the atmosphere, and as the population grows, pollution issues can only worsen until we take action.

Environmental protection is a lengthy and challenging process that requires constant preparation, government policy, and public and industrial engagement. 

By reducing waste, instituting conservation programs, prohibiting harmful farm pesticides, and promoting clean green energies, we will dramatically minimize the number of emissions entering the atmosphere each year and improve our standard of life.

Ideally, we should all be able to breathe clean air.

How can People Protect Themselves from Air Pollution?

Combating air pollution requires teamwork. We all have a lot more to do to reduce air pollution quickly and proactively. Concerted and orchestrated activities involving all industries are critical. This covers the government (federal, state, and local), towns, the general population, and persons.

To national governments: reduce pollution and establish national air quality requirements that comply with WHO guidelines. Invest in science and expertise in air quality control are critical components.

To cities and local communities: Public policy across industries must include public health from the start, accompanied by adequate evidence and resources for evaluation.

Regarding individuals: Maintain your commitment to advocating for safe and clean air.

We are all responsible. Consider your lifestyle and consumption habits, and make sustainable decisions for yourself, your children, and their children's children. 

Air Purifiers to Help You Combat Air Pollution

Air purifiers are a great addition to any home and make a positive difference in the quality of air you breathe. If you are ready to take your health to the next level and contribute to solving a local air pollution problem, we are ready to help.

Shop now for our "Best Air Purifier" collections at Think Air Purifiers Home

We offer a variety of practical air purifiers to keep your indoor air quality the best it can be.

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