21 August 2018

What is air pollution doing to your lungs?

Categories
Air Pollution

You may have noticed that this week at Newcross, we've been focusing on health and the environment. Today, we're asking: What is air pollution? We've all heard the term before - but what does it actually apply to?

Every time you drive to work, turn the air conditioner on or style your hair with a hairdryer, you're making choices that directly affect air pollution. In a broad sense, air pollution is the presence of chemicals or compounds in the air which are usually not present, which lower the quality of the air or cause detrimental changes to the quality of life, such as the damaging of the ozone layer or causing global warming. 

Different areas of the UK have different levels of air pollution. High concentrations can be found in most UK towns and cities. This is where sources of pollution, such as road traffic, are heavily concentrated.

Air pollution can affect human health, plants, animals and ecosystems, and the built environment.

What is air pollution doing to your lungs? 

Air quality has an impact on the health of our lungs and the entire respiratory system. Air pollution exposure can trigger new cases of asthma, exacerbate (worsen) a previously-existing respiratory illness, and provoke development or progression of chronic illnesses including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.

How can we reduce air pollution? 

  • Conserve energy – remember to turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
  • Participate in your local utility’s energy conservation programs.
  • Limit driving by carpooling, using public transportation, biking and walking.
  • Combine errands for fewer trips.
  • Keep your automobile well tuned and maintained. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on routine maintenance, such as changing the oil and filters, and checking tire pressure and wheel alignment.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
  • Use electric or hand-powered lawn care equipment.
  • Be careful not to spill gasoline when filling up your car or gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment.
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full.
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners.
  • Use water-based or solvent free paints whenever possible and buy products that say "low VOC".
  • Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent volatile organic compounds from evaporating into the air.
  • Purchase and use low-polluting outboard marine engines and personal watercraft (4-stroke and direct fuel injection 2-stroke outboard marine engines).
  • Advocate for emission reductions from power plants and more stringent national vehicle emission standards.

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pollution smoke

Sources: 

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

UK Air Information Resource