Effects of Air Pollution on Child Development

What are the types of air pollution?

Here we’re most concerned about three types of air pollutant that cause environmental and health problems:

Particulate matter (PMs). The most dangerous tiny particles of air pollution can penetrate deep into our lungs, and can even get into the bloodstream. Particulates worsen heart and lung disease. Fine particle air pollution is responsible for 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2). A toxic gas that you might sometimes notice as an orange haze over a city. High levels of NO2 can cause a flare-up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing.

Ground level ozone (O3). Ground level or “bad” ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. It can irritate the eyes, nose and throat.

 

How does air pollution affect your health?

As for you, the 18+ year-old, how does the air you breathe affect your own health? Probably not in a positive manner if you’re driving around and smoking ciggies. According to WHO Babies exposed to more air pollution are more likely to face elevated blood pressure, according to a study published Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension. The study found that air pollution is associated with higher risk of high blood pressure in adults as well as in children. Air pollution exposure during pregnancy can also lead to higher risk of high blood pressure for babies, the study found.  The study found that high blood pressure tied to air pollution lasts beyond childhood.  “We know that blood pressure tracks through life. Children who have elevated blood pressure in childhood have a higher probability of having hypertension later in life and cardiovascular diseases. The study followed nearly 1,300 mothers and their children who had follow-up visits between ages three and nine. It can be easy not to worry about the current state of the world until it affects you personally. A headline such as “London breaches annual air pollution limit for 2017 in just five days” would have given me passing concern a few years ago. After all, I’m not a cold-hearted monster. But now that I actually live in London, suddenly this information becomes all the more terrifying. We care about and discuss things like climate change and environmental problems, but the issues seem so large and out of our own control, that they end up as background noise.  I realised I knew nothing about the health effects of air pollution.

Cancer

Asthma

  • Two thirds of people with asthma say that poor air quality makes their asthma worse. This puts them at higher risk of an asthma attack. They also state that being exposed long-term to high concentrations of air pollution may cause adult-onset asthma.

Stroke and heart failure

  • Short-term exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of hospitalisation or death from stroke in the following week and increase the changes of cardiovascular diseases.

Heart disease

  • Air pollution is linked to the development  of cardiovascular diseases, including furring of the arteries. It can also exacerbate conditions for those already living with heart disease. British Heart Foundation’s Professor David Newby’s research suggests  that people living with heart failure have an increased risk of being hospitalised and of dying where pollution levels are high.

Diabetes

  • The development of Type 2 diabetes is not only due to lifestyle or genetic factors, but also traffic-related air pollution, according to research  by the American Diabetes Association.

Dementia

  • Links are being suggested between environmental factors and Alzheimer’s Disease. Toxic magnetite particles from air pollution have been discovered in human brains in “abundant” quantities. This substance can create oxidative cell damage, which is linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Want to Know More About Alzheimer’s Disease – See Here!

 

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