Air Pollution, Beware of Risks and Adverse Impacts on Health


Air pollution is a global health problem that occurs in various places around the world.  The world health agency (WHO) states air pollution as one of the biggest environmental problems that adversely affects the health and survival of living things.  Air pollution occurs when the air that is inhaled mixes with toxic substances from vehicle fumes, factory waste, dust, pollen, and other sources of pollution.

 Air pollution can occur when the environment is contaminated by chemical, physical, and biological substances that change the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.  Motorized vehicles, industrial facilities, home stoves and forest fires are the main sources of air pollution.

 Air pollution itself is divided into two categories, namely air pollution that occurs outdoors and indoors.  Examples of outdoor pollution include burning fossil fuels (vehicle and factory fumes), dangerous gases (sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide), and cigarette smoke.  While examples of indoor air pollution are gas (carbon monoxide, radon), household products and chemicals, cigarette smoke, building materials (asbestos, lead, formaldehyde), indoor allergens (cockroaches, rat droppings, dust), and mold  and pollen.

 In some cases, outdoor air pollution can enter the house through windows, doors, vents, and other open air circulation holes.

 Risks and Adverse Effects of Air Pollution for Health that You Need to Beware of

 Countries that can reduce the level of air pollution will also reduce the risk factors causing heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, preterm labor in pregnant women, as well as acute and chronic respiratory disorders including asthma, and even death.  Outdoor air pollution contains carcinogenic material or substances that can cause cancer.  Decreasing air pollution will also help improve respiratory and cardiovascular health.

 Air pollution affects the development of the lungs and kidneys in the womb in infants, and increases the risk of miscarriage.  In the elderly, air pollution increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and dementia.  The risk of developing asthma, diabetes, obesity, to cancer also haunts people at all ages.

 Here are some triggers for air pollution and its adverse effects on health:

 Carbon monoxide.  This toxic substance has no aroma and color.  Smoke containing this substance is found in waste, kerosene, coal and wood that is burned.  These chemicals reduce the carrying capacity of red blood cells in carrying oxygen.  The effect on health depends on how long the exposure and how much carbon monoxide is inhaled.  Symptoms that arise due to exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide include headaches, dizziness and fatigue.  Whereas higher carbon monoxide exposure can cause vision problems, focus disturbances, decreased consciousness, and even death.

 Nitrogen Dioxide.  Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) arises from the combustion process (emissions from power plants, vehicle engines, and ships).  NO2 irritates the mucosa of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.  Continued exposure to NO2 can increase symptoms of bronchitis and emphysema, and can even worsen heart disease until early death.  NO2 can also reduce lung function and increase the risk of respiratory infections.

 Solid and liquid particles.  Components of particles in the air consisting of sulfates, nitrates, organic chemicals, metals, soil particles, or dust.  This component is found in vehicle fumes, power plants and forest fires.  If exposed to a combination of these elements continuously, can increase the risk of death from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

 Ozone.  Ozone at the surface is different from the ozone layer in the atmosphere.  Although the ozone layer functions as an antidote to ultraviolet (UV) light, but on the surface of the earth, ozone is considered pollution.  Ozone on the surface of the earth is formed when sunlight triggers chemical reactions between elements of pollution.  Ozone is a very reactive gas and can irritate the eyes and cause upper and lower respiratory distress even in healthy people.  Ozone pollution can trigger asthma attacks in asthmatics.  Ozone can also increase a person's susceptibility to respiratory infections and exacerbate respiratory illnesses that have been previously suffered.  Long-term exposure to high ozone concentrations can cause a significant decrease in lung function, airway swelling, and respiratory distress.  People with lung disease are very susceptible to the effects of ozone-induced respiratory distress.

 Sulfur Dioxide.  Sulfur dioxide or SO2 is produced from burning coal and gasoline.  This substance can irritate the eyes and nose.  Inhalation of this element can cause narrowing of the respiratory tract, where people with asthma and chronic respiratory diseases will be more sensitive to this element.

 Lead.  The majority of lead or also called tin comes from vehicle emissions, industry, the use of solder, and paint.  Lead is very poisonous and is known to damage the nervous system, kidneys, and interfere with the formation of hemoglobin.  Children are more susceptible to the effects of lead, which can result in a decrease in IQ (level of intelligence), decreased performance, impaired behavior, delayed puberty, decreased hearing function, to cognitive performance.  While in adults, lead exposure can lead to cardiovascular disease, nervous disorders, decreased fertility, to decreased kidney function.

 Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Air Pollution with the Following Steps

 To reduce the risk of exposure to indoor air pollution, you can ensure that your home or office space is well-ventilated, and cleaned regularly to prevent dust buildup and mold formation.  Occupants of a room must also be wise to reduce the use of pollutants and irritants such as aerosols, household cleaning chemicals, and other pollutants.  Use cooking stoves that save on gas and limit the use of electricity or fuel.

 Meanwhile, exposure to open air or outdoor pollution can be reduced by checking the air quality index, avoiding heavy traffic whenever possible, and avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke.

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