Air pollution harms not only the environment, but also the human body. According to Chest, published in the medical journal Chest, air pollution can harm not only our lungs, but every organ and virtually every cell in the human body.
Research has shown that air pollution affects the entire body and contributes to a host of diseases, from heart and lung disease to diabetes and dementia, from liver problems and bladder cancer to brittle bones and damaged skin. Fertility rates and the health of fetuses and children are also at risk due to the toxicity of the air we breathe, according to the review.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is “a” because more than 90% of the world’s population is exposed to toxic air. A new analysis shows that 8,8 million early deaths annually () suggest that air pollution is more dangerous than tobacco smoking.
But the relationship of various pollutants to many diseases remains to be established. All known damage to the heart and lungs are only “”.
“Air pollution can cause both acute and chronic harm, potentially affecting every organ of the body,” scientists from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies conclude, published in the journal Chest. “Ultrafine particles pass through the lungs, are easily captured and transported through the bloodstream, reaching virtually every cell in the body.”
Professor Dean Schraufnagel of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who led the reviews, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if nearly every organ is affected by pollution.”
Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health and Environment, commented: “This review is very thorough. It adds to the solid evidence we already have. There are over 70 scientific papers proving that air pollution affects our health.”
How does polluted air affect different parts of the body?
The immune system’s reaction to the particles can cause arteries in the heart to narrow and muscles to weaken, making the body more prone to heart attacks.
The effects of toxic air on the respiratory tract—nose, throat, and lungs—are the most widely studied. It is in pollution that the cause of many diseases – from shortness of breath and asthma to chronic laryngitis and lung cancer.
In the US, a study of 9 participants found that osteoporosis-related bone fractures were more common in regions with higher concentrations of airborne particles.
Pollution causes a host of skin conditions, from wrinkles to acne and eczema in children. The more we are exposed to pollution, the more damage it does to sensitive human skin, the largest organ in the body.
Exposure to ozone and nitrogen dioxide has been linked to conjunctivitis, while dry, irritated, and watery eyes are also a common reaction to air pollution, especially in people who wear contact lenses.
Research has shown that air pollution can impair children’s cognitive ability and increase the risk of dementia and stroke in older adults.
Among the many other affected organs is the liver. The studies highlighted in the review also link air pollution to numerous cancers, including those in the bladder and intestines.
Reproductive function, infants and children
Perhaps the most worrisome impact of toxic air is the reproductive damage and impact on children’s health. Under the influence of toxic air, the birth rate is reduced and miscarriages are increasingly occurring.
Studies have shown that even the fetus is susceptible to infection, and children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies are still developing. Exposure to polluted air leads to stunted lung growth, an increased risk of childhood obesity, leukemia, and mental health problems.
“The harmful effects of pollution occur even in regions where air pollution rates are relatively low,” warn the review researchers. But they add: “The good news is that the problem of air pollution can be solved.”
“The best way to reduce exposure is to control it at the source,” Schraufnagel said. Most air pollution comes from the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat homes, and transport electricity.
“We need to get these factors under control immediately,” said Dr. Neira. “We are probably the first generation in history to be exposed to such high levels of pollution. Many may say that things were worse in London or some other places 100 years ago, but now we are talking about an incredible number of people exposed to toxic air for a long time.”
“Entire cities breathe toxic air,” she said. “The more evidence we collect, the less opportunity politicians will have to turn a blind eye to the problem.”