What are the effects of air pollution?
The effects of air pollution can be quite serious. They are commonly associated with universal issues such as global warming, as well as cancer and other health problems. In humans, pollution has been linked to:
- Lung disease
- Reduced life expectancy
- Asthma attacks and bronchitis1,3,4
The World Health Organization estimates that 4.2 million deaths worldwide are caused by poor air quality – through stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.3
Effects of air pollution on human health.
When you breathe in polluted air, tiny, invisible particles (pollutants) penetrate deep into your lungs, bloodstream and body. This can affect your body in a number of ways. In the short term, air pollution can:
- Affect how well your lungs work, making it more difficult to breathe.1
- Irritate your airways, causing inflammation and giving you a sore, scratchy, throat and cough. You might also experience congestion from mucus building up.1
- Exacerbate respiratory health conditions, such as asthma, as well as allergies like hay fever, and make the symptoms of a cold worse.1,4
- Irritate your eyes and make them sore.2
In the longer term, over several years, air pollution can cause problems with:
- Your heart and blood vessels, leading to conditions like heart disease and stroke.3
- Your respiratory system, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or infections, such as pneumonia. Air pollution can even cause lung cancer.1,3