Health risks due to air pollution
10 June 2022
Air pollution is far from harmless. According to the WHO it causes 7 million premature deaths every year.
What is pollution?
Air pollution is caused by emissions of gasses and particles into the atmosphere from cars and chemicals, for example. We can distinguish two types of pollution:
- Indoor pollution: air quality is often worse inside our homes than outside. This is explained by the presence of chemical and biological pollutants: tobacco, carbon monoxide, DIY products and furniture, cosmetics and household products, moisture and mold, legionella, asbestos, lead, etc.
- External pollution: the deterioration of air quality is due to pollutants of natural origin or produced by human activities: fine dust, factory smoke, pesticides, hydrocarbons, vehicle pollution, pollen, etc.
What is a pollution peak?
Peak air pollution is referred to when one of the alert thresholds, defined by the legislation, for the following four pollutants is exceeded, or threatens to be exceeded:
- Nitrogen dioxide,
- Sulphur dioxide;
- Fine particles smaller than 10 micrometers.
During a peak of pollution, it is recommended to take some measures to protect our health (such as avoiding physical activities in the open air) and the environment: reduce the authorized speed and/or provide alternating circulation of cars.
What are the risks of air pollution for our health?
According to a large number of studies, scientists observe a link between air pollution, mortality, cancer and other diseases that are more or less long and more or less serious.
Three organs of the human body are mainly affected by pollution:
- The Lungs: respiratory diseases, allergies, asthma;
- The heart: heart problems, myocardial infarction;
- The brain: neurological problems, stroke.
Attention to the most “sensitive” people: infants, children, pregnant women and children for whom pollution represents a great risk to health, even at low levels.
In addition to our health, pollution also affects our environment in the long term!
How to protect yourself from pollution in the house?
Protect yourself from pollution in the house is possible by following the following tips:
- Use LED light bulbs;
- Program your temperatures: 19 ºF in the living room and 16 ºF in the bedrooms;
- Lower the thermostat by 1 ºF (equivalent to reducing energy consumption by 7%);
- Regularly ventilate the rooms: 10 to 15 minutes per day;
- Check regularly that the air inlets and outlets are not clogged;
- Prevent moisture from settling as much as possible;
- Do not use deodorants, incense or chemical fragrances for the home;
- Choose the most natural cleaning products possible;
- Do not smoke inside;
- Vacuum frequently to remove dust mites;
- Regularly dust the furniture with a damp cloth;
- Choose furniture made of natural materials.
How to protect yourself against external pollution?
For your travels: choose transport modes that emit less gas and particles. Different solutions are possible, such as traveling by bus, metro, bicycle or scooter. Carpooling or car sharing are also an advantageous alternative to limit pollutant emissions.
Common sense rules should generally be applied to protect your health from air pollution:
- Do not walk in the city center or near high traffic roads;
- Do you have children? Prefer green spaces!
- Avoid physical activities outdoors in case of peak pollution;
- Use public transport as much as possible;
- Use an anti-pollution mask.