English: Smokestacks from a wartime production...
English: Smokestacks from a wartime production plant, World War II. Myanmasa: ဒုတိယကမ္ဘာစစ်အတွင်း ထုတ်လုပ်မှုကြောင့် လေထုညစ်ညမ်းခြင်း။ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Air pollution is one of my biggest concerns and a big concern for hundreds of other people as well. While I may not always be able to see it with my naked eye, my lungs and the rest of my body can most definitely tell that there’s something not quite right with the air that I’m breathing. You’ve more than likely heard of air pollution, but you may not be entirely aware of all of the many dangers that air pollution poses to you and everyone else on the planet.

What is Air Pollution?

The air becomes polluted whenever it contains dust, gases, fumes or odor in dangerous amounts. The amount of air pollution is considered dangerous if it can negatively impact my comfort and health or the comfort and health of animals. Air pollution is also considered dangerous if it can damage materials and plants as well.

Anything that contributes to air pollution is known as a pollutant. Any type of pollutant that is loosened directly into the air and degrades the air is known as a primary pollutant. Examples of primary pollutants include the carbon monoxide emitted from automobile exhaust and the sulfur dioxide that’s created from coal combustion. Any existing air pollution can be made even worse if the primary pollutants undergo a volatile chemical reaction. The resulting chemical reactions are known as secondary pollutants, such as photochemical smog.

Most air pollutants are a direct result of the gases given off by motor and industry vehicles. Additional pollutants occur naturally in nature from the smoke from fires and particles of dust that are blown by the wind. Certain types of air pollution have the potential to bring about problems that can be felt around the world. Global problems include global warming and upper atmosphere ozone depletion. In order to unravel these complex problems, nations from around the world will have to work together and utilize all of their resources.

Air Pollution and Your Health

The amount of air pollution in nearly every major city in the nation is dangerously high, more than enough to interfere with a person’s breathing and either causing or exacerbating a variety of serious health complications. These health conditions not only exist in the United States, but in a several cities around the world, such as India and China.

Whenever you breathe in particle pollution, ozone or any other type of air pollution, you risk seriously compromising your health. Breathing in smog can seriously damage the inner linings of your lungs, damage that can be compared to an intense sunburn. Particles of soot can actually increase the chances of you suffering from a stroke, having a heart attack and even dying. If you have pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, asthma or a cardiovascular disease and you’re exposed to air pollution, you may have to be admitted to the emergency room.

Developing countries have noticed the negative health effects of air pollution since they still cook with solid fuels like coal, wood and dung. While a meal is cooking, high levels of carbon monoxide and particle pollutions are inhaled, which has resulted in more than one million avoidable deaths ever year. Individuals who are at the greatest risk from air pollution include babies, older adults, children and those with upper respiratory diseases. Air Pollution and the Heart Studies have shown that air pollution can actually increase inflammation in the heart and can also cause a number of other chronic diseases.

Those same studies were actually focused on indoor air pollution rather than outdoor pollution. One way to reduce indoor air pollution is through the use of an indoor air filter. Another way is to simply reduce the number of indoor air pollutants.

Studies have shown that through the use of indoor HEPA filters, it’s possible to eliminate harmful particulates by 60 percent and the pollution caused by wood smoke by 75 percent. The indoor filters were also shown to reduce inflammation by nearly 33 percent. While the indoor filters were able to decrease indoor air pollution significantly, they weren’t able to eliminate the pollution entirely. In order to completely get rid of indoor air pollution, the sources of the air pollution would have to be removed.

Now that I’ve explained to you what air pollution is, you realize how dangerous it can be to simply breathe. Steps are being taken to reduce the amount of air pollution that currently exists, and some studies have shown that it may not be possible to scrub the atmosphere free of pollutants. Either way, only time will tell.

Article brought to you by Nicki Diaz who writes for Rabbit Air where she covers eco friendly living topics.

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