Everyday hundreds of toxic chemicals are released into the
environment. Many of these chemicals are hazardous to our health
and cause adverse reactions. Our body has some defense against these
pollutants, but it is important to remember that we should do our best to
avoid them. Let's find out why.
What is air pollution?
pollution is a general term for a substance that contaminates the
environment. For example, the exhaust emitted from cars contaminates
the environment because it releases excessive amounts of ozone,
monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and lead.
- Pollution can come from gases,
particles, or liquids. Many times, these pollutants are man-made, but
sometimes they can come from the environment. For example, pollen
which is released by trees and plants, can become very abundant in the air
we breathe and
irritate those people who are allergic.
Why is air pollution so bad for your lungs?
Humans are a collection of
organ systems all working together to keep the body in good working order. The body must
maintain a balanced environment for the organ systems to function
properly. When the body is exposed to pollutants, this balance can
be disturbed. For example, when carbon monoxide, a deadly gas found
in cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust, is inhaled into the lungs, it
interferes with the bloods ability to take up oxygen. Click
here to see how.
- Some natural pollutants like pollen, ragweed, and molds trigger allergies in
the body. Hay fever is a condition characterized by allergic
reactions to these natural pollutants.
- As the body is exposed to allergens, or allergy-causing substances, it begins to build up a
defense. Once the body builds up a defense against a substance, it
will release defensive substances like histamine to help protect the
natural balance the body needs.
- The release of histamine and other defensive
substances can trigger itching, sneezing, tissue swelling, and
sinus problems. While these may not be deadly, they are often inconvenient
and can aggravate other conditions that may be present, like asthma.
Asthma is a condition where allergens like pollen, dust, or other kinds of
pollution can cause the airways to become more narrow, and reduce
airflow to the blood vessels in the lungs where gas exchange is taking
How can air pollution be prevented?
- Air pollution cannot be prevented, but it can be reduced.
Air pollution comes from many sources, some natural and others
- Automobile pollution is the largest contributor to
air pollution in the United States. This can be reduced by
increasing the use of public transportation systems, car pools, and
reducing the amount of pollution vehicles cause.
- Recycling is also a great way of helping reduce
pollution. Recycling means that the factories which make goods for
us, do not have to make as many products for us, and do not create as much
waste which can pollute our environment.
Where is air pollution found the most?
Pollution is generally highest in large cities and industrial
natural sources like pollen from trees is a problem in the eastern and
Midwestern United States.
Ragweed, which is the most common cause of hay
fever, is found in most parts of the United States.
Pollution can also be an indoor problem.
Some allergens like dust or cat and dog hair can build up inside
homes and work places and cause extreme discomfort for individuals
that are allergic to them. Another source of indoor pollution occurs
from chemicals in new or remodeled buildings.
"Sick building syndrome"
is a result of the build up of chemicals that are continuously
released from new furniture, fabrics, detergents, paints, building
"Sick building syndrome"
is increasing in prevalence because buildings are becoming more
efficient at heating and cooling the air in a building, by not
circulating clean air from the outside into the building.
As chemicals build up in a building
they can reach toxic levels and cause illness.
syndrome" can be avoided by maintaining a clean environment
with adequate circulation of air from the outside.
It is also important to store hazardous chemicals
properly. Buildings should also be inspected to make sure
that the building materials used are safe to live or work
in. Air vents and filters must be cleaned regularly to
help reduce the number of airborne pollutants.
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