Air pollution causes: A Note on diseases caused by air pollution

Air pollution is the leading cause of certain life-threatening disorders.

It causes complications like lung cancer, skin infections, paralysis, brain dysfunction, memory loss, etc.

And, in many cases, the pollution effects exaggerate the existing disease conditions.

Diseases like COPD, asthma, tuberculosis, eye problems & other infections, require the patient to stay away from air pollution to regain better health.

As per The World Health Organization reports, approximately 2.7 million people die each year from air pollution.

Air is important natural resource supporting life on the Earth. Air has a composition of various gasses with nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%) and the remaining by other gasses like Carbon-dioxide (CO2), hydrogen and noble gasses with a ratio of less than 1% for each.

The rise in air pollution can drastically change this gaseous ratio leading to health hazards. Contamination of air with dust particles and other substances further adds to the risk due to air pollution.

Air pollution causes:

Air pollution is either due to

1. Automobile Pollution: Contamination due to excess releases of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other harmful gasses from vehicle exhaust.
2. Pollution due to smoking: This may seem weird but smoking causes pollution, and it troubles many around the person smoking cigars, etc.
3. Black carbon soot: Resulting due to burning of wood, coal and other biomaterials
4. Dust pollution: Impregnation of dust particles from dusty roads, other airborne particles like pollen grains from plants, etc.
5. Chemical fume pollution: By contamination with noxious chemical emissions from industries involved in the manufacture of poisonous substances.
6. Pesticide Pollution: Agricultural use of pesticides by spray dispenser can contaminate the air around the farms with the toxic chemicals.

Diseases caused by air pollution can be mostly related to organs of the body exposed to air like lungs, skin and also the brain due to high dependency for oxygen supply.

They are further differentiated as short-term and long-term disease conditions.

Short term effects cause diseases like:

Eye allergy, nasal allergies like sinusitis, throat infection or inflammations, etc.

Long-term effects causes:

Skin infection & problems: Air pollution due to dust contamination is the major factor for growth and formation of acne, scabies,dandruff, fungal infection etc. This problem is seen in young children and to some extent in adults working in areas of high dust pollution like iron, bauxite and other mining industries.

Air pollution especially dust pollution is the cause of pimples and other skin rashes. The dust particles block the skin pores and lead to pimples.

Lung diseases:

♦ Bronchial asthma trigger: Air contaminated with seasonal pollen is the prime reason for asthmatic attacks in the susceptible victims. It also exaggerates infections like bronchitis, pneumonia in already infected individuals.

♦ Bronchitis, COPD etc: The phlegm formation is profuse due to pollution making the accumulation of infectious microbes’ easier and further destruction of lung tissue linings. The alveolar tissue so damaged is difficult to be repaired and the victim’s lung capacity to inhale and expire air is reduced. This causes gasping like situation and is especially troublesome if happened during cold winters or in the elderly people suffering from COPD, asthma and other lung diseases.

♦ Lung cancer: Some reports by NIH indicate that smoke from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, is responsible for increased rates of lung cancer.

Air pollution is also said to cause  ANEMIA, INFERTILITY, KIDNEY problems also.


Brain problems: Brain requires a high amount of energy. Hence there is a high demand for oxygen supply. And 20% of the oxygenated blood from the heart is directly supplied to the brain to meet these needs. Decreased oxygen content in air leads to inadequate energy supply to the brain. This lack of energy leads to loss of memory as shown by some scientific studies.

There is also the risk of headaches, depression, anxiety, etc. Some studies show that exposure to air pollution increases chances of brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease.



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