99% World’s Population Is Breathing Poor Air: What Happens To Your Lungs When You Inhale Polluted Air

Ever thought what happens to your lungs when you breathe in toxic chemicals, which according to the WHO is what we are inhaling currently? Read on to know more.

The three basic requirements of living include – air, food and water. But, what if we tell you that the air you are breathing is polluted and can have major health effects? Yes, in a recent study, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that 99 per cent of the global population breathes air that exceeds its air-quality limits and is often rife with particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, enter the veins and arteries, and cause severe diseases. These health complications can also include – lung cancer, heart problems, etc.

The report comes at a time when the world is fighting its worst healthcare battle against the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19. Talking about the deteriorating situation, Dr Maria Neira, head of WHO’s department of environment, climate change and health said, “After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution.”

Nitrogen Dioxide Present In Air – 99% World’s Population Is Breathing Poor Air

As of now, we were aware of the two most harmful particles present in the air whose levels can have a direct impact on our health. These are namely – PM2.5 and PM10. However, a recent study has talked about a harmful gas named nitrogen dioxide. What are the possible side ways in which nitrogen dioxide affects the lungs? To understand this let’s first know what exactly is this gas.

Nitrogen dioxide originates mainly from human-generated burning of fuel, such as through automobile traffic, and is most common in urban areas. Exposure can bring respiratory disease like asthma and symptoms like coughing, wheezing and difficulty in breathing, and more hospital and emergency-room admissions, WHO said. The highest concentrations were found in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Countries Like India Are At High Risk – Here’s Why

Poor air quality is a direct threat to the humans, but who are at high risk of suffering the major side effects of this deteriorating air quality? According to the experts, it is that section of the world which comprises of big industries, factories, etc.

Experts say that these harmful particulates which are present in the air come from various sources, such as gas emitted by vehicles, power plants, decomposition used during agriculture, the burning of waste and industry as well as from natural sources like desert dust. To place countries in a list under high-risk categories, the experts said that according to the study results, places in the world like India have high levels of PM10, while China has high levels of PM2.5.

“Particulate matter, especially PM2.5, is capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke) and respiratory impacts,” WHO said. “There is emerging evidence that particulate matter impacts other organs and causes other diseases as well.”

Inhaling Polluted Air Can Lead To Severe Health Issues

Poor air quality can have some severe and major long-term health risks, mostly linked to the heart and the lungs. Some of the diseases linked to poor air quality are:

  1. Coronary artery disease
  2. Emphysema
  3. Respiratory infections
  4. Asthma
  5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  6. Cardiovascular disease
  7. Diabetes
  8. Stroke, and
  9. Lung cancer

Experts also warn that breathing bad air can be dangerous for pregnant women, as it can contribute to birth defects.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk which carries the ability to kill an estimated 7 million people in a single year.

What Happens To Your Lungs When You Inhale Polluted Air

It is very interesting and at the same time, extremely scary to know that air pollution can tear apart your lungs health. How to know if your lungs are affected by the air pollution? experts say that when air pollution wreaks havoc inside the lungs, a person will notice symptoms like irritated airways, leading to persistent cough, breathing issues, etc.

While it is bad news that almost 99 per cent of the world’s total population is breathing poor quality air, here are some questions that everyone wants to know. What happens to your lungs and body when you breathe in polluted air on a daily basis? How does this impact our health long term?

When you breathe in polluted air, you actually let the harmful particles present in the air enter your body’s cells and let them damage your organs. One of the most affected organs includes your lungs and heart. Breathing in air pollutants can cause certain damage to the airway which in turn causes severe health issues including shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, asthma episodes and chest pain.

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