Air pollution (or environmental pollution) is an ongoing health threat caused by car emissions, burning fossil fuels in power plants or homes, incinerators emissions, and other sources.

Smog and soot are among the most widespread types of air pollution, often formed when emissions react with sunlight.

Respiratory Disorders

Air pollution refers to any form of contamination of the atmosphere with chemicals or physical particles that pose harm to both people and other living things, from household combustion products, motor vehicle emissions and industrial emissions to wildfires and forest fires. Pollutants come in various sizes with PM2.5 particles having the ability to penetrate deep into lung tissue causing respiratory infections, asthma attacks and lung diseases; their severity typically depends upon an individual’s age and duration of exposure; they tend to be particularly devastating for those suffering preexisting medical conditions like heart disease or respiratory disorders.

Longer exposure to household air pollution has been linked with an increased risk of noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke and respiratory obstructive pulmonary disease (ROPD). Even shorter-term exposure may have detrimental health impacts – especially among children and those living with preexisting conditions.

Air pollutants have also been linked with acute respiratory symptoms and conditions, including bronchitis, asthma attacks, sinusitis aggravation and nasal congestion. They have even been shown to increase risk for lung cancer among smokers.

Research demonstrates that exposure to air pollutants can aggravate asthma symptoms, trigger or worsen existing lung conditions, and negatively impact lung growth and function in children. Furthermore, exposure can negatively impact pregnancy outcomes by altering fetal development and long-term respiratory health in newborns.

As such, exposure to outdoor air pollutants varies based on geography, weather and individual characteristics; however, most studies show that low-income communities and minority populations are disproportionately exposed to air pollution, placing them at greater risk of adverse health outcomes.

Indoor air pollution can also be an issue, with concentrations of certain pollutants often being five times higher than outside. Americans spend almost 90% of their time indoors; therefore, this should be taken into consideration by many individuals – especially those living with preexisting health conditions or children who often spend much of their time at home.

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Heart Disease

Air pollution comes in the form of gases or tiny particles; two common examples include smog and soot (aka PM). Smog forms when emissions from burning fossil fuels interact with sunlight to form volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides; while soot contains chemicals such as soil, smoke, dust particles which may exist both as gaseous emissions as well as solid particles in solid form. Both smog and soot emissions come from cars, trucks, factories, incinerators, power plants engine combustion and any other source that consume fossil fuels to make their presence felt over long distances before arriving in people’s lungs.

Scientific evidence establishes a correlation between smog and soot to harmful respiratory effects as well as heart disease risk, with both pollutants contributing to atherosclerosis formation which increases your chances of heart attacks or strokes by blocking bloodflow to the heart. Studies also demonstrate an association between long-term exposure to fine particulate matter and cardiovascular disease risks.

Short-term exposure to PM is associated with multiple autonomic nervous system changes in humans, including rapid changes to sympathovagal balance as evidenced by changes in blood pressure and decreased heart rate variability, suggesting an increase in sympathetic activity (Online Table 1). The increased cardiovascular effects may be the result of direct interactions between chemicals in the air and endogenous biological processes within individuals’ bodies.

Recent research from researchers discovered that even exposure to air pollution at levels well below World Health Organization guidelines was associated with an elevated risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). The risk rose rapidly within an hour of exposure before gradually diminishing throughout the day.

Risk was highest for poorer communities and older people. This finding should come as no surprise, since polluting facilities tend to be located in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color – further compounding their exposure. Even taking into account smoking and socioeconomic status differences between residents of wealthier and poorer households, pollution remains a much greater threat for residents living in low-income neighborhoods or communities of color.

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Cancer

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been identified as one of the main air pollution contributors to cancer risk, particularly through inhalation. PAHs attach themselves to particulate matter and enter our bodies through inhalation; they have been known to trigger asthma attacks and cause inflammation of the lungs as well as worsen existing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease, lead to lung and bladder cancers, interfere with immune system functioning and even reduce immunity overall.

Air pollution can be found worldwide, but urban environments present particular threats due to multiple sources of emissions and proximity of people living closer together. Poorer and more vulnerable populations tend to be most adversely impacted by air pollution compared to wealthier individuals due to limited financial means preventing them from changing lifestyle choices that reduce exposure.

Human activity is responsible for most emissions that pollute our air. They’re released when we burn fossil fuels like coal, gasoline and natural gas to power cars and airplanes, heat homes or run factories; this releases carbon dioxide into the air that contributes to global warming; air pollution also comes from smoke from wildfires or volcanoes.

Air pollution can contribute to increased mortality as well as cause numerous other health issues, from irritating lungs and respiratory systems, increasing cardiovascular diseases, impairing immune functions and damaging materials to even birth defects.

Though there may not be an easy solution for air pollution, many individuals worldwide take steps to limit their exposure. Examples include using public transit instead of driving alone, choosing energy-saving appliances and recycling yard trimmings instead of burning them – all are effective strategies.

Air pollution is a global challenge that requires immediate global solutions. By lowering greenhouse gas levels and other air pollutants, we can help prevent premature deaths while simultaneously improving everyone’s quality of life on earth.

Birth Defects

Every four and a half minutes, a baby is born with some form of birth defect; some can be minor while others may require lifelong medical care and may even cause permanent disabilities.

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Birth defects caused by abnormalities to chromosomes or gene mutations at conception are known as genetic birth defects and often pass down from both parents – either having been affected themselves, or carrying the abnormal genes responsible. These birth defects are called genetically transmitted birth defects.

Other birth defects result from complications during gestation. This may include issues related to amniotic sac (uterine constraint), ruptured fetal membranes or infection of mother during gestation. Medical or surgical intervention may be required in these instances to treat them successfully.

While birth defects cannot always be prevented, steps can be taken to lower their risks. For instance, some women can undergo genetic screening to assess whether they are more likely than other mothers to have children born with certain birth defects based on family history.

If a woman has already given birth to a child with birth defects, she can consult maternal-fetal medicine specialists and genetic counselors about her future risks. Some birth defects can even be assessed before conception via genetic testing; high-resolution ultrasound scans from certified prenatal ultrasound groups may help detect some conditions as well.

Air pollution has long-term health effects, ranging from respiratory diseases such as asthma or emphysema, heart disease and an increased risk of cancer – particularly lung cancer.

Air pollution has many other negative side-effects that go beyond its direct physical impacts on you, such as carbon monoxide poisoning or nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or lead inhalation at high concentrations being toxic if breathed in.