A young red-haired woman appears to hold her nose with both hands

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

Can the nose filter pollution?

Yes. Your nose is the first part of your airway that pollution hits, and it does an incredible job of filtering particles from the air you breathe. It does this by trapping pollutant particles in the nasal mucus and hairs.2,5 However, air pollution can cause swelling of the nose lining, which can result in nasal congestion.6


Why should I use Otrivin Breathe Clean Daily Nasal Wash?

Otrivin Breath Clean is a Nasal Wash comprising of Natural Ingredients - Isotonic Sea Salt Solution and Natural Glycerin. With increasing levels of air pollution and germs, the Daily Nasal Wash helps in washing them away from the nose. It also gently cleanses the nasal cavity during a cold or in allergic conditions, washes away excess particles like dust and pollen, and soothes the nasal passage. Glycerin acts as a moisturizer and helps soothe and moisturize the nose.


  1. Environmental Protection Agency. How mobile source pollution affects your health. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/mobile-source-pollution/how-mobile-source-pollution-affects-your-health (last accessed April 2020)
  2. Shusterman D. The effects of air pollutants and irritants on the upper airway. Proc Am Thorac Soc 2011; 8(1):101–5.
  3. World Health Organization. Air pollution and health. Available at: https://www.who.int/airpollution/en/ (last accessed April 2020)
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health. NICE guideline. Published: 30 June 2017. Available at: nice.org.uk/guidance/ng70 (last accessed April 2020)
  5. Eccles R. A role for the nasal cycle in respiratory defence. Eur Respir J 1996;9(2):371–6.
  6. Medscape, Nasal physiology. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874771-overview (last accessed April 2020)

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