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The Effects of Air Pollution

© cbckchristine / Adobe Stock
© cbckchristine / Adobe Stock

The effects of air pollution cause concern worldwide, as exposure to certain pollutants can lead to severe health issues. They can also have a harmful effect on the environment. In most parts of Europe, the major causes of pollutants are combustion from heating, power generation and motor vehicles. Unfortunately, these types of pollutants can cause problems, not only in the immediate vicinity of the source, but also farther afield.

Common pollutants

The most common pollutants can cause various health problems when people are exposed to them at high levels. Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone can irritate the lungs and airways, increasing the symptoms of lung disease.

Fine particles of dust and dirt can find their way into the lungs, causing inflammation and making heart and lung diseases worse. Carbon monoxide prevents the blood from absorbing oxygen, leading to a significant reduction in oxygen to the heart.

Even people in good health can experience the impact of polluted air, such as respiratory irritation and breathing difficulties. The risk of adverse effects depends on the individual’s current health, the type and concentration of pollutant and the length of exposure.

Health problems

The immediate health problems caused by high air pollution levels can include extra pressure on the heart and lungs as they work to supply oxygen to the body, aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses and cell damage in the respiratory system.

Permanent health effects can include decreased lung function, accelerated ageing of the lungs, diseases such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis and a shortened lifespan. Some people are more susceptible to health problems, including those with heart disease, congestive heart failure and lung diseases.

Other groups most at risk include pregnant women, elderly people and children under 14. These people may suffer health effects at lower levels of exposure to air pollution.

Ozone pollution

The primary sources of ground-level ozone include motor vehicles, construction equipment and agricultural equipment. Ozone reaches a peak during the afternoon and early evening. It can cause the airways to feel constricted and the respiratory system must work harder as a result.

Initial symptoms of ozone pollution can include a sore throat, coughing, a headache and nausea. In the longer term, this can lead to aggravated respiratory diseases, reduced resistance to infections and severe fatigue.

Particulate matter

Tiny particles in the air may contain all kinds of pollutants, including smoke, soot, sulfates, nitrates, dust and tyre rubber. The particles can be emitted directly (such as in smoke from a fire) but they can also form in the atmosphere from the reaction of gases, including nitrogen oxides.

Smaller particles pose the most serious problems, as they can bypass the body’s natural defences and get into your lungs and bloodstream. Exposure can cause asthma attacks and bronchitis, susceptibility to respiratory infections, eye irritation, coughing, a tight chest and shortness of breath.

As the level of air pollution rises, people with lung conditions are increasingly at risk of falling ill and needing medical treatment. When the level is particularly high, the government issues an air pollution alert in the affected area.

Tackling air pollution

Everyone can take steps to tackle air pollution. Every individual can reduce their own contribution to the problem. Rather than taking your car on short trips, cycle or walk when possible to reduce emissions and keep you active. If you can’t walk, consider car-sharing or using public transport.

If you’re buying a new car, check its nitrogen dioxide emissions first. Avoid buying diesel vehicles if possible and buy a hybrid or electric car instead. If you already have a car, have it serviced regularly to minimise the air pollution it may be causing.

If you already have a diesel car, have its particulate filter maintained and emptied regularly. Contact your local council’s environmental health department to report any incidents if you have any concerns about pollution in your area.

Good air quality

The benefits of air conditioning to purify the air are very important in our day-to-day life. While people usually think of air pollution as occurring outdoors, it can also infiltrate our home or workplace. In particular, having air conditioning in the workplace, where we spend a large part of our life, can keep the air quality purer, make us feel healthier and lead to increased productivity.

It goes without saying that no-one wants to spend a lot of time in stale air.

Air conditioning

Wherever we are, pollutants can rarely be avoided, but by installing a professional air conditioning system, they can be minimised. The AC unit should be correctly maintained, so that it gives optimum performance at all times. This includes winter maintenance.

You may think air conditioning is something you need only in summer, but the air quality can actually be poorer in winter, as less ventilation and rising humidity levels can create stagnant air in commercial buildings. This climate can breed pollutants, contaminants and allergens.

The filtration system of an AC unit provides all-year-round advantages, creating a healthy and comfortable environment. Including installation, servicing, maintenance and technical back-up, Klima-Therm provides an outstanding range of affordable air conditioning products and services. For more information, please contact us today.

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The Effects of Air Pollution

by Klima Therm time to read: 3 min
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