Air Pollution in today’s world makes it difficult for us to breathe pure, clean air. Strangely, we are now on a quest to look for a planet similar to earth despite the fact that ours is said to be the only planet where living things can live. Because of the numerous human activities carried out in the name of development since the industrial revolution of the 19th century, the earth has lost its freshness and purity of air. Over time, it started to have an adverse effect on all living creatures, resulting in countless negative health effects and numerous fatalities. And today, as global citizens, breathing clean air has nearly become our most important right, and the struggle continues.
What causes air pollution, and how does it affect people?
Air pollution is the impurity in the air caused by a concoction of dust particles and liquid pollutants, together known as aerosols, that has a negative impact on the health of living things and, more crucially, on the climate. Both natural and man made factors cause the increase in air pollution. To mention a few, these include the dangerous gases and smoke released by cars, factories, dust, volcanic ash, pollen grit, and wildfire dust particles
What induces pollution in the air?
Various artificial and natural calamities or factors give rise to pollution in the air. The factors are as discussed below-
In an extensive wooded area, prolonged dryness can lead to a devastating level of wildfire, producing harmful gas called carbon monoxide and smoke. When the smoke and carbon monoxide gets mixed up in the air, they promote carbon volume in the atmosphere, the major reason behind the Greenhouse Effect.
Barren land areas with no vegetation cover are left dry due to scarcity of rainfall, and during the windy season, these areas become more prone to dust storms. Thus, when mixed up in the air, these granular particles have hazardous health effects for living beings. When dispersed into areas with native flora, granular particles can also act as a natural barrier to photosynthesis.
● Volcanic Eruption
One of the major natural factors giving rise to air pollution is the ashes and dust from volcanic activities. In the process of the volcanic outbreak, numerous harmful gases are emitted, that include chlorine, sulfur, ash materials, and sulphur dioxide. These materials are dispersed across wide distances by the wind and negatively impact plantations and life forms.
● Harmful chemical emissions from animal waste and some types of vegetation
Methane, the main contributor to air pollution, is released by animal manure, most notably that of cattle. While trees like oak, poplar, and willow emit a dangerous substance called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially on sunny days. Low-lying periodic fogs that are ozone-generous are generated when these harmful compounds interact with predominant man-made pollutants, notably nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and carbon compounds.
Man Made Factors
● Combustion from Fossil Fuels
Human development has been causing a disastrous level of air pollution and a prominent rise in global warming. One of the main contributors to air pollution is using petroleum-based fuels like coal, petroleum, and other industrial flammable materials. Harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides, CO2, and CO emitted from vehicles have led to a rebelling concern for living creatures and the earth as a whole.
● Dumping of waste materials
As a result of increased trash production and population growth, landfills are overflowing with debris. In the end, uncontrolled landfills release methane, which causes pollution and the Green House effect.
● Agricultural Activities
The demand for the increase of agricultural lands prompts the cutting down of forests that would otherwise have led to releasing oxygen and purifying the air. But as a result of rapid deforestation, there’s a sharp increase in carbon emission and resulting in Green House effect.
Effects of Air Pollution On Human Health
The contamination in the air can have detrimental effects on living organisms and the climate as a whole. There is no question as to why numerous international organisations and well-known individuals have urged the implementation of various measures to enhance the health of the air quality. In addition to producing a number of health problems, such as breathing difficulties, heart conditions, lung conditions, asthma, emphysema, and many more, it has also led to global warming, which has caused significant intercontinental tensions.
To discover more about the health problems brought on by air pollution, let’s delve a little further.
Extreme exposure to air pollution leads to a high level of unfavourable health effects that are discussed below.
Dust particulates and other pollutants in the air can trigger asthma in existing patients and a probable chance for non-patients and children. Breathing becomes challenging because they stimulate the airways, causing them to expand and constrict.
● Impairment of Lung Performance
The most affected populace by lung disease are those who reside in high traffic and industrially-rich areas. That’s the reason why individuals working in factories have a higher risk of suffering from lung diseases and other respiratory ailments.
● Lung Cancer
The second next activating factor to lung cancer after smoking and exposure to radioactive agents is the dirt, gas and contamination in the air quality. International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) revealed in 2013 that a substance named Group 1 carcinogen present in outdoor pollution had been a major element of lung cancer.
● Cardiovascular Diseases
Inhaling impure or contaminated air lets the impurities and toxic gas travel down to your blood vessels affecting the cardiovascular tissues by narrowing and stiffening them. Thus, increasing the chance of heart and respiratory disorders.
● Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD affects more than millions of people in the world, and the symptoms include inflammation of the lungs that blocks the flow of air and causes obstruction in breathing. The highly concerning factor of COPD is that it can’t be reversed. Your physician may recommend medication in the form of pharmaceuticals, mindful practices, therapies, and medical interventions based on the situation.
The most life-threatening illness brought on by air pollution is leukaemia, a category of blood cancer that develops due to prolonged submission to the benzene air contaminant. In this syndrome, the red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets, which are vital for the body to be functional, are pushed aside by the white blood cells (WBCs), which begin to grow indiscriminately.
Pneumonia, a condition where the air sacs either in one or both the lungs get swollen and are flooded with liquid substance or pus, can become fatal if not consulted with a doctor. It has been shown that adults over 60 years old are more frequently impacted by pneumonia because they have a weakened immune system and are more vulnerable to bacterial infection.
The primary 5 Indian cities vulnerable to air pollution are discussed below:
With more than 2000 active factories located in Bhiwadi, it is regarded as Rajasthan’s industrial hub and the most polluted city in India. In 2022, it had the maximum Air quality Index exceeding 200. Eventually, its natives are noticing all the health consequences, more prominently respiratory problems.
The PCB data indicates that Ghaziabad has an air quality index of 428 and is ranked as the second most polluted in the country.
● New Delhi
India’s capital city, Delhi, has been ranked as the third most polluted in the nation for a number of years due to its dense traffic area and hazardous fuel gas emissions from factories and automobiles. Moreover, there has been a sharp rise in air pollution every year, leading to many fatal diseases for its inhabitants. Without a doubt, it has been a matter of worry for the whole nation as the capital of India is witnessing a sharp rise in air pollution. According to reports, the city is currently 20 times above the World Health Organization’s immunity restriction, placing it in a dangerous zone. The appropriate safety number cap set by the WHO is 5. While globally, Delhi spots in the 4th number.
The fourth most toxic city in India is now Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh. Jaunpur’s air quality index currently stands at 152, which is completely hazardous for the populace.
Noida is the fifth most polluted city in the nation, with an air quality score of 283.
The safety measures that should be taken to prevent when exposed to air pollution are:
● Wearing a mask, especially a charcoal filtered mask that prevents harmful gases.
● Try to keep yourself from polluted zones like busy streets and main areas of the city or town.
● Travelling early in the day will be a brilliant idea to avoid the rush hour. You can reduce your exposure to pollutants in this way.
● Use rear roadways to escape the majority of the traffic if you journey by running, walking, or bicycling.
● Use your preventer inhaler frequently if you have asthma.
What dietary habits should you adopt to guard against the negative impacts of air pollution?
● Cruciferous Vegetables
Vegetables, including collard greens, bok choy, arugula, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, significantly reduce inflammatory response and the likelihood of lung cancer and other ailments brought on by air pollution.
● Green Tea
The high antioxidant contents in green tea aid in countering many allergic traits of air pollution- prone disease. It functions by hydrating you and cleaning the lungs and airways.
It is advised to incorporate a small number of seeds in your diet each day, including flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Since they give your body an adequate amount of magnesium, they aid in reducing airway inflammation and facilitating comfortable breathing.
● Ginger & Peppermint
Gingers are known to heal sore throat, cough and any diseases related to cold, relieving the path to easy breathing. Whereas menthol, which is present in peppermint, comforts and calms the respiratory system.
● Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and any tangy tropical fruits are jammed with Vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system by safeguarding the cells from getting damaged.
● Fruits & Vegetables
The countless minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fibres are one of the basic constituents that promote to keep us healthy by enhancing the immune system and keeping diseases at bay.
There arises no doubt that the pollution caused by harmful pollutants and gases in the air has engulfed every nook and corner of the world. It’s a global battle that every living species has been fighting for many decades. With cities’ rapid growth and increased opportunities, a large portion of the population has relocated to the city. Instead, it negatively affects their health and significantly reduces their life span. And, if we do not address the issue by now, the day won’t be far when the world will meet its doomsday at the earliest. Additionally, if you start to suffer serious symptoms like coughing, itching, or throat swelling, we suggest you call a doctor immediately.
What implications does air pollution have on human quality of life?
The respiratory system is the first area that airborne particles impair, causing irritation, enlarged airways, coughing, and asthma. Lung illness, lung cancer, and heart conditions later occur as a result of it penetrating far into the lungs. Additionally, it can severely impact the skin, causing premature ageing and dullness.
What causes air pollution?
Human activity and natural events both contribute to the air’s contamination. The air is naturally polluted by smoke from wildfires, volcanic eruptions, pollen, soil dust, and lightning. While artificial elements include an even more extreme and damaging level of air pollution, these factors are smoke from household cooking, industrial waste, automobile emissions, waste burning, and countless other activities that rapidly increase air pollution.
Does pollutants in the air harm hair in any way?
Extreme pollution can chemically deteriorate the quality of hair. The hydrophilic hair surface area is impacted, the hair protein disintegrates, and the hair strands are disrupted.
What are the symptoms seen in individuals exposed to air pollution?
One can witness severe respiratory conditions like emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma. If someone is exposed to pollution for an extended period of time and with great intensity, lung damage will continue to prevail even after symptoms like coughing or a scratchy throat fade away.
What level of air pollution causes health problems?
A high air quality index exceeding 100 is deemed unhealthy and is more likely to result in health problems.
Disclaimer: The information included here is only for knowledge-sharing purposes, and the blog is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis, medical advice, or treatment by a healthcare professional. Every individual needs advice based on diagnosis and evidence, hence the reader should consult their doctor to determine the disease and any treatment must be taken under appropriate medical guidance.