The danger of air pollution to the lungs is not something that can be taken lightly. Exposure to excessive air pollution is known to increase the risk of various diseases in the lungs, ranging from respiratory infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, to cancer.
Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems that have a significant impact on human health. Not only can cause various diseases, exposure to excess air pollution is also known to increase the risk of premature death.
Data from WHO states that there are about 7 million people in the world who die every year due to exposure to air pollution, both air pollution that comes from outdoors and indoors.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia alone, the death rate due to air pollution is estimated to reach more than 60,000 cases every year.
Several Types of Hazardous Substances in Air Pollution
The following are some types of harmful substances contained in air pollution and their impact on body health:
1. Nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a type of hazardous gas that is usually produced from combustion processes, such as burning garbage, forest fires or smog, and motor vehicle engines or power plants.
Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause inflammation of the respiratory tract and decrease lung function. This toxic gas can also increase the risk of bronchitis, both in adults and children.
2. Elemental particles
Particulate components in the air consist of sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, and mineral dust. Exposure to the combination of these particulate elements in the long term can increase the risk of respiratory disorders, lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
The ozone layer in the atmosphere does have an important role as an antidote to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. However, ozone on the earth's surface is one of the harmful gases contained in air pollution.
Prolonged exposure to ozone can cause shortness of breath, trigger asthma and emphysema flare-ups, and make the lungs more susceptible to infection.
4. Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a pollutant produced from the burning process of fossil fuels, such as coal and gasoline, as well as the smelting of mineral ores containing sulfur.
When inhaled, this substance can cause inflammation of the respiratory tract and cause various symptoms, such as coughing up phlegm and shortness of breath. In addition, people who frequently inhale sulfur dioxide are at a higher risk of developing respiratory tract infections and bronchitis, as well as recurrence of asthma symptoms.
Benzene is a chemical liquid that is very easy to evaporate so it can pollute the air. Air pollution containing benzene is usually found in cigarette smoke, vehicle fumes, factory fumes, as well as everyday products, such as glue and detergent.
Exposure to high levels of benzene can cause respiratory problems, lung cancer, anemia, and even death.
6. Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a gas produced from combustion processes, such as burning coal, wood, and fuel in vehicles.
When a person inhales too much carbon monoxide (CO), the blood's ability to bind oxygen will decrease. This is because CO gas is more easily bound to hemoglobin than oxygen. As a result, the body will experience a lack of oxygen or hypoxia.
Decreased oxygen levels that are not immediately addressed can cause dangerous complications in the form of tissue or organ damage and death.
Hydrocarbons are compounds that combine hydrogen and carbon. When inhaled in large quantities, hydrocarbon gases can cause various health problems, ranging from coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia, heart rhythm disorders, to pulmonary hypertension.
Even though the air you breathe looks clean, various types of harmful substances may still be contained in it. Therefore, you need to protect yourself from exposure to air pollution that causes lung damage and various other diseases.
To protect yourself from air pollution, you can wear a mask while on the move, use an air filter or use an air filter water purifier at home, and maintain plants in the house that can make the air cleaner and fresher.
Not only that, now the use of masks is also one of the health protocols that must be carried out to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
If you are often exposed to air pollution and experience certain symptoms, such as coughing, runny nose, shortness of breath, headache, and coughing up blood, you should immediately consult a doctor to undergo an examination and get the right treatment.