Air pollution: 5 harmful effects of toxic smog on your health

Published on Nov 05, 2022 11:23 AM IST

As the AQI (Air Quality Index) shows no sign of improvement and the air remains in severe category, many people are experiencing respiratory trouble and burning sensation in eyes and throat.

According to WHO (World Health Organisation), exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
According to WHO (World Health Organisation), exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
By, New Delhi

As a thick layer of toxic smog engulfs Delhi, NCR and other cities in North India, many people are struggling with respiratory issues, burning sensation in throat, watery eyes and a dip in their overall well-being. Due to the severe air pollution, primary schools in Delhi-NCR have shut and are now conducting online classes. As the AQI (Air Quality Index) shows no sign of improvement and the air remains in severe category, many people are trying to stay indoors with their air purifiers on. Air pollution can cause both short term and long-term health issues and constant exposure of pollutants can lead to asthma, COPD, bronchitis among other health problems. (Also read: Delhi-NCR air pollution: How it's damaging your kidneys, know from expert)

According to WHO (World Health Organisation), exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes and it increases risk of respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer. Both short and long term exposure to air pollutants have been associated with health impacts. More severe impacts affect people who are already ill.

"It is a known fact that air pollution is hazardous to our health. Thus, it will be imperative for you to minimize your exposure to air pollution and improve your overall well-being," says Dr Sangita Chekker, Consultant Chest Physician, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road.

Dr Sangita explains how air pollution takes a toll on our overall health and some of the issues that crop up due to air pollution.

1. Asthma: Constant exposure to air pollution can give you asthma or even trigger it. According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, small particles in the air can pass through your nose or mouth and find their way into your lungs. The pollutants present in the air lead to chronic airway swelling and irritation which can be problematic for those with asthma. Moreover, breathing high levels of air pollution can cause repeated asthma attacks.

2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): It is a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing issues. Those detected with COPD may also fall prey to other conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Prolonged exposure to air pollution can invite COPD in people belonging to all age groups. It is essential to even avoid indoor air pollution to keep the lungs healthy.

3. Lung cancer: Air pollution can lead to a surge in cases of lung cancer. Inhaling harmful particles can be harmful to the lungs. According to a Lancet analysis, air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and cancers of the mouth and throat.

4. Eye problems: If you are feeling a burning sensation in your eyes nowadays, you aren't alone. Eye problems are rampant these days due to exposure to air pollution. The harmful particles present in the air can go into the eyes leading to eye irritation, redness, swelling, inflammation, and itching. It is advisable to take utmost care of your eyes.

5. Bronchitis: This is another respiratory problem that is commonly seen due to poor air quality. Bronchitis can be seen in a majority of people due to long-term exposure to air pollution. Bronchitis is known to be caused by exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust, vapours and fumes.

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