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Look around you, it may feel like you’re living in a gas chamber. The heavy smog in the air makes you choke and causes your eyes to burn, and of course, this isn’t a great sign. The year 2020 has anyway been difficult for our lungs—what with covid-19 taking over our lives. Add to it air pollution, and it’s certainly a recipe for disaster.
Not many understand that air pollution can cause several short-term and long-term effects on your health. Research suggests that air pollution can damage every organ and cell in the human body. Yes, it’s true. From heart and lung disease, diabetes to dementia, and liver to bladder cancer—pollution can lead to several damaging health concerns. In some cases, the toxic air also has a detrimental impact on a woman’s fertility, and causes harm to foetuses in pregnant mothers.
The World Health Organisation has called air pollution ‘a public health emergency’, with more than 90% of the global population breathing toxic outdoor air. What’s more, it goes on to say that 8.8 million early deaths each year happen because of air pollution, making it a bigger killer than tobacco smoking.
So, what do we do? To help us out, we have Dr Rashmi Tarachandani, a practising general physician with over 25 years of experience, who tells us how pollution impacts our health, and suggests some tips to keep us safe.
“In the short-term, you may suffer from choking and severe cough, especially when particles enter your lungs. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, and can affect your day-to-day life. In the long-term, the impact is even worse. That’s because if harmful particles remain in your lungs, it can lead to several lung disorders, and cause serious breathing issues. That’s exactly why one must be very cautious about their health,” advises Dr Rashmi.
“Air pollution can harm you acutely, as well as chronically, potentially affecting every organ in the body,” conclude the scientists from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies in the two review papers, published in the journal Chest.
“Ultrafine particles pass through the [lungs], are readily picked up by cells, and carried via the bloodstream to expose virtually all cells in the body.”
There are several things you can do to keep yourself away from the harmful impact of pollution.
“We are advised to wear masks when we step outside, to prevent ourselves from covid. The same mask will act as a shield against air pollution. So make sure you never leave home without a mask,” suggests Dr Rashmi.
“Also, it’s best if you can try to stay indoors as much as possible. This applies in the case of covid-19 and pollution. Prevention is always better than cure, so try not to leave your homes, until necessary. Lastly, try and keep indoor green plants that fight air pollution. Some of the most common ones include snake plant, bamboo palm, and aloe vera,” says Dr Rashmi.
Please note: While you are doing all of this, it is also important to eat a nutritious diet to fight the damage caused by air pollution. Try and stay away from outdoor exercises, because it will cause more harm than good.
So ladies, be extra cautious and stay as safe as you can!