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Pollution and Respiratory Health: FAQs & Precautions Tips

By Dr. Inder Mohan Chugh in Pulmonology

Jan 10 , 2024 | 2 min read

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary respiratory health concerns arising from prolonged exposure to high levels of pollution, particularly in areas like Delhi?
Breathing in air pollutants irritates your airways and may cause coughing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain. Hence, asthma, COPD, respiratory infections and lung cancer all exacerbated because of exposure to a variety of environmental air pollutants. The greatest effects occur due to particulate matter (PM), ozone and nitrogen oxides. Exposure to air pollution also puts you at risk for lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke and, in extreme cases, premature death.

Are there any specific patterns or changes in the types or severity of respiratory illnesses due to varying pollution levels in the city?
Variations in pollution levels within the city show specific patterns in the severity and types of respiratory illnesses. Particularly, increased pollution correlates with heightened severity of respiratory infections, especially in children. In metropolitan areas, outdoor pollution contributes significantly to acute respiratory infections and is responsible for a significant portion of deaths among children under five years old.

Which groups of people are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution?
Specific groups, such as children, infants, and the elderly, are more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of air pollution. Children, due to their developing respiratory systems, face heightened risks. As people age, their lung function naturally declines. When combined with any existing health issues, this makes the elderly more prone to the harmful effects of poor air quality.

Read more- Unveiling the Impact of Air Pollution on the Lungs and Heart

What are the potential long-term effects of prolonged exposure to high levels of pollution on respiratory health?
Prolonged exposure to high pollution levels can result in long-term consequences for respiratory health. This includes accelerated ageing of the lungs, decreased lung capacity, and increased vulnerability to diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and potentially cancer.

Is there any rise in chronic respiratory conditions directly linked to pollution?
In Delhi, rising pollution levels are significantly impacting individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions like COPD or asthma, leading to worsened conditions despite medication. Many patients require hospitalisation and some even intensive care due to exacerbated symptoms.

Read more- Air Pollution and Its Impact on Health

What lifestyle adjustments can individuals make to reduce the impact of pollution on their respiratory well-being?

To minimise the adverse effects of pollution on respiratory health, individuals can adopt certain lifestyle changes. Avoiding outdoor exercise on days with poor air quality, especially near high-traffic areas, can significantly reduce exposure. Monitoring daily air conditions through platforms like Airnow.gov is advisable. Additionally, refraining from burning wood or trash can also contribute to minimising pollution levels.

What advice or precautions would you recommend to the general public to minimise the adverse health effects of pollution on their respiratory system?
To protect your lungs from outdoor pollution, consider:

  • Avoiding exercising outdoors on bad air days.
  • Avoiding exercising near high-traffic areas.
  • Checking Airnow.gov to know about the daily air conditions in your area.
  • Don't burn wood or trash

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