Air pollution has been recognised as a major environmental risk to health. According to the World Health Organisation, by reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better your cerebrovascular, cardiovascular and respiratory health will be.
There are two types of air pollution; indoor pollution caused by cooking fumes from using fireplaces or wooden stoves, and outdoor air pollution caused by emissions from industries and road transport. Air pollution consists of various chemicals, including particulate matter, invisible gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide, and semi-volatile liquids, such as methane and benzene. Particulate matter (PM), also known as particle pollution, consists of tiny particles and liquid droplets, suspended in the air. Once inhaled, these particles, along with other harmful compounds can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.
Particulate matter is a significant source of air pollution that is particularly damaging to the heart and lungs. The size of these particles matters, where exposure to “fine particles” which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller, can get deep into the lungs as well as the cardiovascular system, causing inflammation. Particulate matter is also thought to contribute to CVD by promoting atherosclerosis, leading to the narrowing of blood vessels, as well as causing cardiovascular inflammation, and increasing blood clots. The effects of which include hypertension, heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes.
The government, industry and public need to work together on a global scale to reduce air pollution and improve air quality. Most sources of outdoor air pollution are well beyond the control of individuals and demand action by cities, as well as national and international policymakers in sectors like transport, energy waste management, buildings and agriculture. Nonetheless, here are some things individuals can do to help keep the air cleaner, particularly in their homes: