Direct and Immediate Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health


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Air pollution might appear to be a temporary inconvenience when you are outside and soon as you get inside your home or any other building, you forget about it. This has been our attitude towards these toxins for a long time and subsequently, due to our negligence, we are now witnessing a variety of world-wide effects not seen in our previous history. 

Air pollution has a direct and immediate impact on human health in multiple ways. Lethality of outdoor contaminants can be gauged by the fact that it causes approximately three million deaths annually around the world. In this article, we will discuss the different short and long-term implications of what some of these toxins can do to our bodies.  

Loss of Bone Density

Bones with thin density are more prone to fractures. In medical terms, the condition is called osteoporosis and usually affects elderly people. But a recent study indicates that there might be a link between osteoporosis and air pollution.

Car Emissions can Reduce the Levels of Parathyroid Hormone

Researchers have noted that individuals (regardless of age), who are more exposed to automobile emissions, experience a drop in their parathyroid hormone levels. This hormone is responsible for the construction and protection of bone mass.

A direct measurement of bone density also indicates that people living in a heavily polluted neighborhood, such as in some communities in China and India, experience rapid drops in their bone densities as compared to the residents of less polluted areas. In the U.S., pollutants from vehicles are more controlled due to the high set of federal regulations placed on the automotive indstry.

Poor Quality of Sperm

According to a research published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine, air pollution is somehow linked to lower quality sperm. Scientists have found out that solid matter particles suspended in the outside air have adverse effects on the shape and size of human sperm. Low sperm quality can lead to infertility. It is worth mentioning that these toxins from the air can affect the male reproduction activity within the span of 90 days.  

Renal Issues

Air pollution also has an adverse impact on the physiology of kidney. According to a study conducted in the domain of Nephrology, kidneys are even sensitive to low levels of pollution which is often not classified as hazardous by Environmental Protection Agency.

The research also looked into the pollution level in the areas where the veterans had previously served to find the effects of increased level of pollution. The report concluded with a very alarming verdict that no level of air pollution can be called safe for kidneys health.

Risk of Stroke

According to CDC, strokes are one of the leading causes of deaths in the U.S. It also results in a large number of long-standing disabilities. Scientists have gone through a large medical record accounting more than six million deaths in different countries over the course of 66 years to find a correlation between air pollution and stroke.

They have discovered some loose and tight pointers regarding the association of pollution and its adverse results of strokes (deaths and disabilities).

Hypertension and High Blood Pressure

A study conducted in five European countries concludes that air pollution can be a reason behind more cases of hypertension and high blood pressure. All the 41,000 people who were part of the study were not suffering from any cardiovascular complication at the start of the study. But over a short time period, around 15 percent of the individuals who participated in the study had developed the issue of hypertension.

Complications of Pregnancy

A research study has been conducted on a mouse to find the impact of air pollution on pregnancy. Researchers have found out that particulates of burning fossil fuel can increase the risks of premature births and low birth weight. Even though the subject of the study was mice, it still provides another underlying reason for premature births in the human population.

Psychological Issues

A report indicates that air pollution also has its detrimental effects on our mental well-being. The study has taken a survey in different cities regarding mental health and matches it with respective air qualities. It indicates that, in the cities with increased levels of air pollution, more people have reported the instances of mental distress.

Air pollution is our collective problem and hence we can only tackle it through a joint effort. However, on an individual level, using air pollution masks while commuting through rush hours, having better air quality at home (through more vegetation around and different HVAC measures), a healthy diet and regular exercise might help in balancing out the toxic effects of these contaminants.

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