Living in our little sunny island has a myriad of benefits including access to good transportation, a high quality education, and not to forget, the wide array of tantalising cuisines available. Unfortunately, there are downsides to living in a city; no country is perfect, after all. These disadvantages include traffic congestion, overcrowding, and most notably the presence of air pollution.
If the Earth Suffers, We Suffer
Air pollution is one of the most prevalent issues faced by many cities globally. This is not a surprise; due to the large presence of factories as well as high volume of traffic, cities are constantly faced with the problem of gas emissions polluting the air. These gas emissions not only negatively impact the environment as well as wildlife, but also cause harmful effects to our own health.
Many health concerns that arise from air pollution stem from our immune system taking the hit, thus resulting in inflammation. Inflammation is the natural response from our immune system when we obtain injuries or when foreign, harmful matter enters our body. This sounds like a good thing, right? We want our immune system to respond when we get hurt because that promotes the healing process. However, constantly breathing in polluted air may cause our immune system to be in a state of chronic inflammation. When this occurs, your internal organs and tissues may be negatively affected. This is why chronic inflammation may eventually lead to other health complications.
Our respiratory system is one part of our bodies that may be affected due to inflammation. As they enter and make their way into our bodies, the tiny, microscopic particles from these fumes have the ability to cause extensive harm to our respiratory systems. This is particularly harmful to people who already have existing respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. The extent of the harm people are exposed to also depends on how much of these particles enter the body. This means the more polluted a location is, the higher the risk of its residents experiencing respiratory problems.
Chronic inflammation may also lead to complications to our cardiovascular health. These complications may arise whether we are exposed to polluted air in the short-term or long-term. People who develop cardiovascular complications as a result of short-term exposure to air pollution are those who may already have an existing health condition such as heart disease. This is because the harmful particles from the air that enter their bodies can exacerbate their already compromised heart condition, thus worsening the problem.
Our skin is possibly our most important organ. It prevents harmful chemicals and other foreign particles in the air from reaching our internal organs. Unfortunately, our skin has its limits too. When we are constantly exposed to air pollution, our skin is unable to provide us with complete protection. Eventually, our skin will be negatively affected to these chemicals and air particles. This makes our skin the most susceptible to the negative effects of air pollution. Some examples of these effects are premature wrinkles, pigmentation on the face, and even the development of acne. This is why an increasing number of skin care brands are developing products to specifically target skin concerns arising from environmental stressors.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Protecting ourselves from the negative and at times, harmful, effects of air pollution may seem like a lost cause, especially for city dwellers. After all, how do you protect yourself from something that is present in the air? Of course, it is impossible for us to isolate ourselves completely from the polluted air around us. But, the individual as well as the broader community can adopt certain measures as well as lifestyle changes to minimise the effects of air pollution as much as possible.
If you are living in an area that is constantly facing air pollution, consider purchasing a mask to wear when you are outdoors. Putting on a mask may help to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals and foreign air particles that enter your body. Or simply use a handkerchief to cover your nose and mouth if you are in a pinch.
Install an Air Purifier
You might not be able to purify the air when you are outside, but that does not mean you cannot do it while you are indoors. If you are living in a heavily polluted area, there is a good chance that the indoor air is polluted too. To combat indoor air pollution, you can install an air purifier to help filter out the chemicals and other air particles.
Update Yourself on Air Pollution Levels
The level of air pollution might still be significant even if the air looks clear to the naked eye. Hence, try to instill the habit of checking your local news for the level of air pollution on that particular day. Stay indoors as much as possible when there is a high level of air pollution. If you need to go outdoors, wear a mask or cover your nose with a handkerchief.
Reduce Vehicles on the Road
Since air pollution is partly a result of the high number of vehicles on the roads, making an effort to reduce this number is a strategy the broader community can adopt. For instance, car-free days can be implemented during the weekends as well as encouraging residents to take public transport, ride a bicycle, or carpool instead.