Clean Air and Health
Clean air is an essential component of living a long and healthy life. Breathing clean air enables all your essential bodily functions to work at their optimum level.
People who spend significant proportions of their time in clean air environments are stronger, healthier and generally reported to feel better.
People and Pollution
Itchy eyes and throat, headaches, feelings of tiredness and nausea can be directly attributable to the quality of the air that you breathe. Mild exposure to pollution can impact your concentration and create noticeable discomfort. More prolonged exposure can have much more serious consequences including a range of debilitating diseases.
The time people are exposed to polluted air is a powerful factor for determining the ultimate damage that is caused. Breathing polluted air for extended periods increases the probability of some of the harmful contaminants being absorbed into the human body. It is the long term accumulation of contaminants through extended or repeated exposure which can culminate into serious disease and ill health.
Pregnancy and Young Children
"air pollution is detrimental to all health, but it can have major implications on the developing child."
Professor Jonathan Grigg, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Pregnant mothers and children are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of polluted air. Pregnancy and early childhood are critical times for the formation and maturation of all the important body systems including the heart, lung, brain and nervous systems - these changes take place very quickly and it is this speed of change which can magnify the adverse effects of air pollution. In short, damage that occurs in pregnancy or early childhood is likely to remain for life.
(Source: Every breath we take: The lifelong impact of air pollution Feb 2016)
Air pollution is linked to both increasing the likelihood of an asthma attack and also increasing the likelihood of developing asthma.
- Particles found in dust, soot, smoke and diesel fumes are small enough to cause swelling and inflamation of the airways in the lungs.
- pollution can make you more sensitive and more likely to react to your usual asthma triggers (such as house dust mites, pollen, pets, moulds and fungi).
(Source: Asthma UK)
Alzheimer's and Dementia
Recent studies have identified fine particulate matter much of which is created when fossil fuels are burned, can be absorbed through the lungs and deposited in the brain. Further studies are required however, it is thought that these deposits could be related to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Heart Attacks, Circulation and Strokes
Research shows that air pollution can affect your heart and circulation by:
- damaging the inside walls of your blood vessels, causing them to become narrower and harder
- restricting the movement of your blood vessels, which can increase your blood pressure and add to the strain on your heart
- making your blood more likely to clot, and
- affecting the normal electrical functioning of your heart.
These problems can either cause new health conditions or make existing conditions worse, such as:
- heart attack
- dementia, including vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s
- heart failure
- heart valve disease
- atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm), and
(Source: British Heart Foundation 2018)
Poor air quality has very strong links to lung cancer. It is the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which has been shown to infiltrate the tissues in the lung causing cancer. Oxides of Nitrogen have also been strongly linked to the cause of some cancers albeit, the precise causes and impacts are less well known.
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick building syndrome is a non-scientific terms which originates from the 1960's ( a time when the use of synthetic materials in construction increased dramatically) and covers a number of symptoms listed below:-
- watery eyes
- upper respiratory congestion
Research suggests that these issues arise from spending time indoors and could be caused by poor ventilation and pollution caused by high quantities of synthetic materials. The term was defined specifically by the World Health Organisation in 1984.