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How Air Pollution Affects Breath

It’s no secret—poor air quality affects your health. When pollution is bad, it can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and cause shortness of breath. Breathing polluted air for long periods of time can cause serious health problems. The two primary pollutants people should understand are Ozone and particulate matter, also known as PM. Cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles are the major sources of ozone, while wood smoke and fire are major sources of PM pollution.

Air pollution affects our health in different ways—from simple to serious problems. Particular matter in the air decreases life expectancy, while ozone irritates breathing triggers asthma symptoms, and cause lung and heart diseases. Air quality has a dramatic impact on the health of our lungs and the entire respiratory system. This body system is particularly sensitive to air pollutants because it includes a mucous membrane, which covers its internal surface. The lungs are design to absorb large amounts of air, transferring oxygen to the bloodstream.


Respiratory Health: Lung tissue cells can be damaged by air pollutants of every type. Ozone can cause damage to the alveoli, the air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs. The airway tissues, which contain a large number of enzymes, can transform organic pollutants into reactive metabolites, which can cause lung injuries and, in the worst cases, cancers.


Cardiovascular Health: Air pollutants, once inhaled, are absorbed by the blood and transported to the heart. Therefore, this is a strong connection between air quality and cardiovascular health. A wide range of chemical and biological substances can directly affect the cardiovascular system and lead to structural damages, such as necrosis, degenerative, and inflammatory reactions.

If you believe your town or city may have extreme air pollution, you may report the observation to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the meantime, purchasing an air purifier is a great way to keep the air in your home relatively free from pollutants.