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Complete Insight On The Diseases Caused By Air Pollution

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Air pollution is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. About 7 million people die of air pollution each year.

As per the survey of WHO, 9/10 people in the world breath the air comprising of many harmful pollutants.

4.2 million people lose their lives as a result of outdoor air pollution.

The number of people dying every year of air pollution is approximately 3.8 million.

What Are The Causes Of Outdoor Air Pollution?


Ozone is made up of three molecules of oxygen. We can classify it into two types:

  • Good Ozone: Good ozone is a part of the earth’s stratosphere that protects us from the harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. The absence of this layer can lead to severe damage to the health of living organisms. 
  • Bad Ozone: When the same ozone gas reaches close to the earth’s surface, it becomes hazardous for health.  It forms when the volatile organic constituents react with oxides of nitrogen in the presence of sunlight. In urban areas, this has become a severe problem. The sky gets the orange tint resulting from the smog. Automobile exhausts, organic solvents, gasoline vapors, and industrial ejaculations are the significant causes of air pollution with ozone.


Particulate Matter

The second most hazardous pollutant is particulate matter. It is the minute substances present in the air which the living organisms inhale and get sick. It comprises of dangerous chemical substances and water droplets. 

Carbon Monoxide

The burning of fossil fuels releases a colorless and odorless gas – Carbon Monoxide. It decreases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and could be quite poisonous. 

Insufficient oxygen in the blood can lead to improper functioning of the heart and brain. 



It is the fourth most hazardous pollutant. The sources of lead include dust, soil, paint, air, drinking water, certain medications, etc. 

Exposure to lead can cause damage to several organs. Some of the primary health conditions:

Nitrogen Dioxide

The emissions from automobiles and power plants produce a highly reactive gas – Nitrogen dioxide. Its presence in the air results in the formation of ozone and particulate matter, causing various respiratory issues.


Sulfur Dioxide

Industries and power plants emit sulfur dioxide, which forms sulfur oxides and particulate matter in certain conditions. When we respire the air consisting of these harmful chemicals, several medical conditions can occur. 


What Are The Diseases Caused By Air Pollution?


The obstructed airflow to and from the lungs can cause a series of lung disorders, collectively termed as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease[COPD].

Causes of COPD:
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Certain genes
  • Pollution and fumes



Asthma is a condition in which the airways that transport air to and from the lungs narrows down. It gets filled with mucus causing breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, chest firmness, and other similar symptoms. 

Causes of Asthma:
  • Respiratory infections
  • Cold air
  • Smoke
  • Airborne substances like dust, mites, pollen grains, etc.
  • Stress
  • Depression


Chronic Bronchitis

It is a condition when a cough persists for several days or months. It can also last upto a couple of years. 

Causes of Chronic Bronchitis:
  • Air pollution
  • Industrial fumes
  • Smoking
  • Dust 
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Recurrent lung infections


Cystic Fibrosis

It is a kind of hereditary disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. In this, the lungs choked with the buildup of a thick layer of mucus. The condition can be fatal or shorten the life of a person. 

Causes of cystic fibrosis:
  • Mutation in the gene, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator[CFTR].



Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli of lungs get damaged. The lungs cannot get adequate oxygen resulting in breathing shortness.  

Causes of Emphysema:
  • Air pollution
  • Fumes and dust
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Marijuana smoke
  • AAT(Alpha-1 antitrypsin) deficiency



In pneumonia, the air sacs get filled with pus or certain fluids, causing severe inflammation and swelling. It can happen in either one or both of the lungs. 

Causes of Pneumonia:
  • Bacteria
  • Virus
  • Fungi
  • Certain health conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD, and other lung disorders. 




It is a form of lung disorder led by the absorption of crystalline silica dust. It causes fever, cough, breathing problems, cyanosis, etc. 

People involved in glass manufacturing, ceramics work, mines, sandblasting, stone cutting, etc. are at the highest risk of getting the disease. 

Causes of Silicosis:
  • Silica exposure



The out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the body leads to cancer. Air pollution is the root cause of lung cancer and cancer of the urinary bladder. 

Cancer of the liver, pancreas, and breast can happen with the prolonged exposure of particulate matter. Inhaling nitrogen dioxide, benzene, and automobile exhausts increase the risk of blood cancer. 

Causes of cancer:
  • Smoking
  • Overuse of alcohol and tobacco
  • Genetic mutations
  • Exposure to particulate matter and ultraviolet radiations


How To Prevent The Diseases Caused By Air Pollution?

Poor air quality can deteriorate your health. People experience varied effects of air pollution depending upon their level of sensitivity.

Following are the steps you can take to safeguard yourself from the diseases caused by air pollution:

Keep a check on the air quality in your locality

Before stepping out of the house, visit, and know the Air Quality Index[AQI] of your region. Most government agencies use this way to determine the amount of pollution in the air. The rise in the AQI of your region increases the risk of various health issues. 


Keep your medications handy

If you are already on some drugs, carry them with you while going out. It will keep your symptoms under manageable and under control. 


Remain indoors

Involving yourself in physical activities significantly increases the risk of diseases resulting from air pollution. Heavy traffic and industrial locations significantly contribute to air pollution. Remain indoors and lower your risk of various airborne diseases.


Keep good air quality indoors

Following things can improve the air quality in your home:

  • Avoid the use of wood-burning appliances
  • Don’t smoke indoors
  • Utilize environment-friendly products in your home
  • Stop mold growth in your home by fixing water infiltration issues




Tags: Air Pollution And Public Health, Causes Of Air Pollution, Air Pollution And Diseases, Effects Of Air Pollution On Human Health

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Photo of author Janet Fudge
Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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