Thursday, October 19, 2017

Important Reminder: How Outdoor Air Pollution Can Affect Your Lungs

(This guest post by Lucy Wyndham is an important reminder of the dangers associated with dirty air. Lucy has assembled other important information at Pneumonia in seniors )


How Outdoor Air Pollution Can Affect Your Lungs
Air pollution remains to be a threat for a majority of people in the US. According to a report released by the American Lung Association, almost half of the population lives in areas where air pollution levels are often dangerously high. As the World Health Organization notes that air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide, it is imperative to take concrete steps to keep the air clean and prevent it from becoming unfit to breathe in. While some people may reason that they’re unlikely to be affected by outdoor air pollution as they spend a majority of their time indoors, the negative effects of breathing in polluted air cannot be ignored. Here’s how outdoor air pollution can affect your lungs and your overall health.

Dmitry Ermakov
You can develop respiratory diseases
Elderly people, in particular, are in danger of developing respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD causes blocked airways and makes breathing difficult. Those with COPD are at a high risk of developing pneumonia, which can be fatal for older adults. The combination of COPD and pneumonia can result in getting inadequate oxygen, ineffective removal of carbon dioxide from your system, and respiratory failure.
Air pollution can cause lung cancer
The microscopic particles in the air made up of acids, organic chemicals, metals, and other pollutants can cause lung cancer. Lung cancer has always been associated with cigarette smoking, however, there is now a growing number of individuals who don’t smoke at all who have developed this health condition. According to data, as many as 20% of the people who die from lung cancer in the US don’t smoke or use any form of tobacco.
It can trigger asthma attacks and other adverse reactions
Those who have asthma may find that living in a highly polluted area can trigger repeated asthma attacks. It’s also likely that people who never had asthma in the first place can develop this condition due to constant exposure to polluted air. Apart from asthma attacks, air pollution can also cause allergic reactions, nausea, and headaches. Long-term effects of air pollution include damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain, as well as the health conditions mentioned above.
These are all the ways that air pollution can affect your lungs and your general health. While the air in the US is significantly cleaner than other parts of the world due to the Clean Air Act, it’s important to keep in mind that we have a long way to go before our air can be free of harmful pollutants. Being aware of this fact and supporting initiatives to prevent air pollution can make an impact towards improving the air that we breathe.

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