One of the main problems of megacities is severe air pollution. No matter how hard we try to move heavy production beyond the boundaries of cities, no matter how we improve the environmental friendliness of fuel, as long as there are gas and coal power plants and boiler houses in the cities, as long as there are cars, we will inhale harmful substances. Alas, most people do not want to know about the impending environmental disaster.
If it seems to you that there is nothing wrong with dirty air because someone there lived in an industrial city, worked in a mine, and lived up to a hundred years, make no mistake, this is an exception. Air pollution leads to many health problems, which we will talk about in this article.
Studies have found that 3 to 6% of new asthma cases are associated with air pollution from exhaust fumes, smoke, toxic fumes, and other harmful substances. High levels of ozone in the air also increase the risk of developing asthma.
Do not be mistaken about the fact that you can avoid this risk by moving out of town. The fact is that indoor air pollution can occur due to poor-quality building materials containing, for example, formaldehyde.
The main cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking, followed by polluted air and toxic gases. In this disease, there is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchi – the respiratory tract through which air enters the lungs. This leads to coughing, phlegm, wheezing, shortness of breath, and other complications.
In addition, a person suffering from chronic bronchitis does not receive the amount of oxygen the body needs, leading to constant oxygen starvation and, consequently, to a deterioration in the general condition.
Pneumonia, according to statistics, is the cause of death for 15% of children under 5 years of age. This disease usually occurs due to infection, but many factors provoke it, including poor ecology. Also, the risk of pneumonia is provoked by smoking and chronic bronchitis. The latter, as we found out earlier, arises from the same air pollution. This condition causes chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, weakness, and other symptoms.
Respiratory system cancer
City air is full of carcinogenic substances such as fossil fuel combustion products that can cause cancer of the respiratory system. The first place of death from cancer in men is the oncology of the trachea and bronchi, which only confirms the effect of pollution on the respiratory system.
Globally, premature deaths from lung and respiratory cancers account for about 6% of all cases. In addition, carcinogenic substances in the air can cause cancer in other systems, such as the genitourinary system.
Do you think that dirty air is only dangerous for the respiratory system? Air pollution increases the risk of arrhythmias, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. The fact is that carcinogenic substances in the air easily penetrate the blood vessels due to their small size and cause inflammation there. Chronic inflammation not only increases the risk of developing cancer but also makes the vessels less elastic.
Researchers in the United States and Denmark looked at over 150 million medical records. They found that people living in areas with poor air quality were 27% more likely to suffer from a bipolar personality disorder and 6% more likely to suffer from chronic depression.
Autoimmune diseases are a class of disorders that develop due to the abnormal production of autoimmune bodies that damage healthy tissue and cause inflammation. The body attacks itself, believing that it is destroying dangerous bacteria and viruses.
Most often, autoimmune diseases cause inflammation in the heart and lungs. One of the factors that increase the risk of such disorders is considered to be polluted air, particles from which cause an immune response in the lungs.
Deterioration of cognitive abilities
Scientists have concluded that air pollution harms the brain due to the same carcinogenic substances that cause inflammation, which leads to oxygen starvation. This increases the risk of developing dementia in old age.
In addition, pollution causes damage to the grey and white matter and basal ganglia, which affects mental performance and impairs learning and memorization.
Irritation of mucous membranes
First of all, the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes are affected, especially if volatile organic compounds such as aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, alcohols, and other substances used in both heavy and light industries are in the air.
Such substances can get into the air from industries and automobile exhaust, and low-quality furniture, which uses formaldehyde and other substances hazardous to health.
Termination of pregnancy and premature birth
If you and your girlfriend are planning to have a baby, then you should know that polluted air increases the risk of miscarriage in the first half of pregnancy. It is not yet clear why this is happening. One theory is that carcinogens in the air cause inflammation around the placenta, which causes a miscarriage between 10 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In addition, polluted air can lead to premature birth due to increased concentration of toxic substances in the blood. This triggers an immune response and weakens the protection of the placenta, which leads to the body trying to defend itself to produce early labour. At the same time, the risk of developing various diseases in a child increases.