Air Pollution has emerged as one of the top 10 killers in the world, causing 1 in 10 deaths each year. In South Asia alone, Air Pollution ranks as the sixth most dangerous health hazard, after blood pressure, smoking, indoor air pollution, poor diet, and diabetes. Two-thirds of global deaths due to exposure to bad air quality occur in Asia, including India.
Air pollution is a bigger risk than you imagine. It impacts your health in alarming ways. It kills 6 times more people than Malaria each year. Some disturbing facts:
Particulate matter in the air is as tiny as one-thirtieth the width of human hair. Too small to be seen, but when inhaled, it settles deep inside our lungs and airways. These minute air pollutants are carcinogenic by nature and increase our risk of cancer. Nitrogen dioxide, another major contributor to air pollution, causes inflammation in our lungs and weakens our immunity to infection and lung diseases.
2-Lower blood oxygen levels
Our bodies need at least 550l of pure Oxygen per day. However, pollution leads to a lower percentage of oxygen in the air we breathe in. This, in turn, means, our supply of oxygen has reduced and our bodies are not getting enough. Reduced blood oxygen levels lead to fatigue, dizziness, aches, and pains. Read more in a previous post…
3-It affects everyone
Air Pollution affects people of all ages, rich and poor alike. Coughing and wheezing are common symptoms of people living in regions with bad air quality. However, the elderly and young children suffer the most from exposure to Air Pollution. It harms overall cognitive performance in both these age groups. They are at higher risk of suffering from acute asthmatic attacks as well.
Air Pollution lowers your happiness quotient
It is common for people living in extreme weather conditions to experience irritability, despair and bad moods. Air Pollution makes it worse. Just like bad weather, high pollution levels are pushing people, particularly children, indoors. Lack of physical activity affects not only physical health but also social, emotional and overall well-being.
It’s indoors too
‘Air Pollution’ conjures up an image of smog, vehicular fumes and smoke spewing out of chimneys. While it may feel safe to stay inside our homes and away from this ‘polluted air’, indoor air may often be just as dangerous. Major contributors to indoor air pollution are solid fuels (wood, charcoal. cow dung coal etc.) used for cooking, chemicals used in paints and building materials, Tobacco smoke, mold, dust mites and other sources such as burning incense sticks, sprays, and other common household products.
How to protect yourself and your family from Air Pollution?
- Keep a watch on the Air Quality Index in your region, and take precautions accordingly.
- Use air filters at home, or even better; grow air purifying plants.
- Support Government and non-government initiatives taken to clean the air quality and follow the specified guidelines. In today’s situation, it is not enough to take individual measures. It is imperative to take action together at a larger scale.
- Take steps to reduce sources of air pollution, such as vehicular emissions, burning wood and firecrackers, wasting electricity etc.
- Create awareness around you by sharing knowledge among your friends and family, since collective effort is the key.