Air pollution is a mixture of different solid particles and gases that are released in the air in the form of pollutants. These pollutants are detrimental to human health and are also harmful to the planet. The risks of air pollution can range from higher diseases to a rise in temperatures.
Some examples of common pollutants are smoke, soot, pollen, methane, mold, and carbon dioxide. Besides these there are various other common pollutants that may be harmful to us and to the planet. Air pollution is caused by vehicle exhaust fumes, fossil fuel-based plants, exhaust from industrial plants and factories, natural causes, or household activities.
Poor air quality has detrimental effects, it kills people. According to a survey by WHO, worldwide, poor air quality caused an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths in the year 2016. One may think that outdoor air pollution poses a major threat to human health. However, indoor smoke is an ongoing health threat to approximately 3 billion people who cook and heat their houses by burning biomass, kerosene, and coal, in India 65.53 percent of the population belongs to rural areas and are therefore dependent on either of the mentioned materials.
According to WHO worldwide outdoor air pollution accounts for the following:
- 29 percent of all deaths and diseases from lung cancer
- 17 percent of all deaths and diseases from an acute lower respiratory infection
- 24 percent of all deaths from stroke
- 25 percent of all deaths and diseases from ischaemic heart disease
- 43 percent of deaths and diseases from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
A recent study that was published in the journal 'Chemical and Engineering News' mentioned how researchers have connected air pollution to dementia, autism, and a few other neurological disorders. Outdoor air pollution has become a fact in our lives today. However, both in children and adults, short- and long-term exposure to air pollution may lead to reduced lung functioning, respiratory infection, and aggravated asthma. When a pregnant woman is exposed to air pollution it may pose severe threats like low birth weight, pre-term birth and small gestational air births.
Therefore, one needs to understand how to protect themselves from air pollution. Take these precautions to protect from the harmful affects of pollution:
- Checking the pollution levels daily through weather reports before stepping out of the house
- When pollution levels are high, avoid outdoor exercises or walks
- There may be certain high traffic areas around us, one must avoid exercising or walking in those areas
- Avoid using energy sources in your homes that causes air pollution; renewable sources of energy can be used instead that reduces air pollution. This will help in improving the air quality and curb greenhouse gas emissions
- Walking, using a bicycle, using public transport, or carpooling can reduce the number of gases released by vehicles
- Do not burn wood or trash, it produces soot which is harmful to human health
- Do not encourage smoking indoors
Making the air quality around us better will improve overall human health and reduce the impact of air pollution on the environment. A few changes to our daily routine can help us breathe better.