Air Pollution: The Basics About Your Health
What do we know about air pollution?
One of the main elements for life is air. We all need air and we breathe air every day. But, should we care about air pollution? Care about the quality of air that we breathe? Care about whether it is clean or not? We definitely should! Fresh and clean air can help our body to be stronger. Pollutants from air pollution can harm our body.
Today, air can contain lots of pollutants. These pollutants include carbon monoxide, smoke, ozone, lead, mercury, sulfur, chlorine, smog and others. Air pollution can be man-made from power plants, from our cars and from our hair sprays. It can be generated from natural sources such dust and wild fires. Air pollution can come from indoor or outdoor. And it is harmful on lives. According to the World Health Organization, poor air quality has linked to 7 million of death worldwide in 2012 (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/). It is responsible for a large number of health conditions. It causes many people to miss work and children to be absent from school. The health risks and effects from exposure to air pollution can be huge. Poor air quality affects our body. It affects our hear and our lung. Depending on the types of pollutants we are exposed to, we may develop cough, wheeze, lung infections, and middle ear infection. We may also develop chronic lung disease, heart disease, and breathing problems in our body. These health damaging effects in our body can be long lasting. They can also be very costly.
What are the effects of air pollution?
When people are in poor health conditions caused by over exposure to air pollution, they cannot be able to work effectively. This limits their ability to work. It in turn places a cap on their income. Without enough income, those in poverty may not be able to buy food or clothes or make visits to doctors to improve their health. Hence, this creates a cycle for those to remain in poor health and poverty. The cost of health and economic effects from air pollution is large.
What is air quality index?
Different areas at different time of the year have different levels of air pollution. We breathe in air pollution every day. Yet what considers as a dangerous and unacceptable in the body varies by person, by sources of air pollution, by the amount of time spent on an activity. Young children, pregnant woman and individuals with acute and chronic health conditions are typically more at risk to air pollution. Their tolerance levels to air pollutants are therefore reduced. The University States Environment Protection Agency has compiled a volume of emission factors (http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/ap42/index.html#toc). It has established two classes of air quality standards. The first one is the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which is used to guide and protect individuals’ well-being. The second one is the Air Quality Index, which is used to inform the public regarding outdoor pollution risk. In general, the air quality index ranges from 1 to 10. The larger the air quality index, the more negative effect of air pollution has on our health. When there is a huge amount of air pollution, the air quality index can be greater than 10.
How to reduce air pollution exposure?
In order to reduce air pollution exposure, many organizations across the world have worked together to develop plans to address air pollution. For example, the usages of electric stoves and better ventilation are recommended for controlling indoor air pollution exposure. The usages of electric and hybrid cars are suggested for controlling outdoor air pollution exposure. Renewable, clean power energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro power have been regarded as the most effective mean to reduce air pollution . If everyone uses clean, renewable energy, it can potentially reduce the risk of death. It can also save a lot of health care cost due to reduction in air pollution exposure. Sadly, renewable energy is currently out of the reach for many individuals in poverty due to its high cost. It may become more affordable in the future as clean energy technology advances.