A Basic Guide to Air Pollution

The topic of air pollution has never been more prevalent – here’s our basic guide to help you better understand air pollution and our environment. 

If you don’t already know, air pollution is when the air is contaminated (indoors or outdoors) by a chemical or biological agent that modifies the atmosphere.

For example, these pollutants could include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, the burning of fossil fuels, vehicle emissions, the gas used to heat homes, wildfires, and more. The list goes on – we could be here all day if we continued. 

And what’s more, according to the World Health Organization, 99% of the population breathes in air that exceeds the air pollution recommended limits. This can be dangerous and may result in various side effects, such as certain cancers, skin conditions, cardiovascular issues, and other health concerns. 

Despite this, many people are unaware of the effect of air pollution – almost as if they don’t know what’s going on – it’s a silent killer, and we need to take action.

So, with this in mind, this blog article will discuss more on air pollution, including recent news that shows a correlation between pollutant air and an increased risk for heart attacks in non-smokers.

What are the main causes of air pollution? 

We’ve touched on this briefly already, but there are numerous causes of air pollution.

But a more extensive list of causes includes:

  • Traffic-related air pollution
  • Vehicle emissions 
  • Fuel oils
  • Gas used to heat homes
  • Coal-fueled power plants
  • Construction and demolition
  • Burning fossil fuels
  • Wildfires 
  • Gas camping equipment 

By no means are we suggesting that you reduce all activities that contribute to increased air pollution. But there may be more minor changes we can all make to reduce the pollutants in the air. 

This could mean walking or cycling instead of driving shorter distances, avoiding wildfires, and using electric appliances over gas alternatives.

Let’s look at the Netherlands, for example – the Dutch have a whopping 23 million + bicycles and a population of 17 million. That’s more bikes than people. 

How do we better manage air pollution?

There are many things we can do to make the air less polluted. For example, you can reduce the number of trips you take by car, avoid burning trash, recycle, and use electric-powered gardening equipment instead of gas-powered. 

Poor air quality affects everyone – we’re all in the same boat. So, why not make our spaces greener – do your part to reduce your carbon footprint, ultimately reducing air pollution, even if it’s only a tiny bit – every little helps. 

What are the side-effects of air pollution?

Air pollution may cause various health risks, especially cardiovascular-related problems. 

For instance, dirty air may damage your blood vessels, make your blood more likely to clot, increase blood pressure, and may even change very small structures of the heart. According to the BHF, air pollution is responsible for more than 6 million deaths worldwide each year.

Let those numbers sink in for a moment – that’s approximately 150x the population of Monaco, each year.

Over time, more health risks and side effects are also being discovered. And scientists know one thing for sure – dirty air is not good for us.

If you’ve ever left the city and ventured into the countryside, you’ve likely felt a literal breath of fresh air – there are typically fewer pollutants. And while not always true, urban areas are often less polluted than cities – there’s less traffic, less going on, and fewer emissions. 

Air pollution and heart attacks – a correlation? 

New research presented at the ESC Congress 2022 suggests air pollution could increase heart attacks in non-smokers. Smokers are not affected as they already breathe dirty air.

In summary, the research suggests that dirty air could be a risk factor for myocardial infarction and other side effects caused by traffic pollution and other pollutants such as nitric oxide. 

If you’d like to find out more, be sure to read the full study.

To conclude 

Air pollution is a real problem – it’s a silent killer. 

Despite this, many people are unaware of the effect of vehicle emissions and other pollutants on the environment.

But collectively, we can create change – whether that means walking to work instead of driving or using electrical gardening equipment over gas-powered alternatives.

There are a ton of small changes we can implement into our daily lives to ultimately make the air cleaner, safer, and better for all. 

Did you enjoy this article? Read more like this on the Advanced ChemTech blog