Atmosphere And Weather

How does Bad Air Quality Affect our Health

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Scientists have discovered that the average person takes about 20,000 breaths per day. This works out to be around 10,000 liters of air passing through the lungs per day.

It does not matter where you are in the world, the air you breathe everyday affects you. Even if you cannot see it or smell it, air pollution is there and you breathe it everyday. Air pollution can be a threat to good health. In a study carried out in Canada which included eight major Canadian cities, Health Canada discovered that around 6,000 deaths every year were linked to the pollution in the air.

Air pollution applies to any chemical or biological agents that are released into the atmosphere and change it, therefore causing harm to health or the environment. Air pollution is caused by a great many things: car exhaust fumes, wood fires, dust, factories and many more things.

Air pollution can affect one's health in numerous ways as there are many types of things that pollute the air. How it affects health can depend on how long the person was exposed to the polluted air. Your health status and genetic makeup would come into this, and also smoking status. Air pollution definitely can have an effect on good health, especially your respiratory system (lungs, airways and capacity to use oxygen). Polluted air can also have serious consequences on your cardiovascular system (your heart function and blood circulation).

It can be harder to breathe if you are affected and your respiratory system may feel irritated. Asthma attacks could become more of a problem and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could develop. An individual who has been exposed to polluted air could suffer more recurrences of bronchitis, and emphysema could also become a problem. Exposure to air pollution could trigger angina attacks, a heart attack or other serious cardiac illnesses.

Individual people will react differently to illnesses from air pollution. People who are at more risk of contracting illnesses related to air pollution could be: children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions. People who have been previously diagnosed with certain illness could be at risk, and some who have diabetes are reported as being sensitive to illness because of the close relationship that diabetes has with heart problems.

The chances of contracting a serious health condition become greater when air pollution gets worse. Even a small increase in air pollution can cause an increase in health issues that might end with people going to the emergency department at the hospital or being admitted to hospital with heart or respiratory conditions. Studies have been done, and these have shown that small increases in pollution will make illnesses amongst the people at risk worse.

You are most likely at risk if you have been diagnosed with or previously recovered from some of the illnesses above. If you have respiratory problems or are a heavy smoker, then this could put you in the “at risk” category.


A child’s respiratory system has not yet fully developed, but children inhale more air per kilogram of weight in comparison to adults. Children are often more exposed to the open air as they play outside and spend more time outside that the average adult. Not only this, but they are also more physically active, and the more physically active they are the more air they will inhale.

Older citizens

Senior citizens are often thought to be at more risk of certain illnesses, not just because of their ages, but older people tend to suffer with health problems more so that younger people. People don’t generally get these illnesses until they much older, and if an older person has pre-existing conditions from the past that are still being treated, then this would likely make them a higher risk.

People who exercise outside

Air quality and the level of pollution can take away from the quality of an outdoor workout. People who work outdoors or exercise on a regular basis outdoors are susceptible to the negative effects of polluted air. The reason for this is they are exposed to the air for longer, and when exercising people tend to breathe more deeply and inhale more air into their lungs.

If you live in an area where the air quality is not good, there are ways you can protect yourself and your family. Now that you understand how badly polluted air can affect one’s health, you are better informed to make good choices. Limiting the amount of time spent outside may be necessary if the air quality is not good, and in some cities the air quality can vary from day to day.

Avoiding both busy roads and driving in rush hour traffic, where you might be breathing many exhaust fumes, is a good idea where possible. You may have your windows up; however, air does come through the ventilation system in a car. Avoiding areas where there is wood smoke may not always be easy, as some people do have wood fires.

If air quality is really bad or there is a fire around producing smoke, stay indoors and close all windows. Keep taking any medications for asthma or other respiratory conditions. Trying to maintain good physical health, eating sensiby and exercising regularly are good defenses against any type of illness. This will reduce the chances of contracting any nasty illnesses related to air pollution.

More about this author: Whitney Rose

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