The WHO’s Ambient Air Pollution Database measures PM2.5 levels in about 3,000 cities in 103 countries. More than 80% of people living in cities that monitor air pollution are exposed to air which does not meet the WHO’s guidelines. That rises to 98% for people living in large cities (more than 100,000 residents) in low and middle-income countries. These facts put a large number of people at risk of being exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollutants. However, some groups of people may be more vulnerable than others in regards to exposure to air pollution.
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Young children are more susceptible to air pollution as their lungs and immune system is still developing, and they breathe more air for their size than adults.
Some children are especially vulnerable. This includes children with underlying chronic lung conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.
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The elderly also are more vulnerable to air pollution, perhaps due to generally weaker lungs, heart and immune systems, or undiagnosed respiratory or cardiovascular health conditions. It’s a well known fact that as people age, their bodies are less able to compensate for the effects of environmental hazards.
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It’s still unknown during which trimester, month, or week of pregnancy are women most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, but a lot of recent studies link exposure to high levels of air pollutants during pregnancy to the risk of premature birth and health problems for the mother and child.
Those active outdoors
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A grooving body of research shows that persons who exercise vigorously or strenuous work outdoors are at increased risk for acute effects from exposure to ozone at levels above what the WHO says is safe.
When air pollution levels are high, for example in the summer when it is hot outside, it may impact anyone in negative ways. By following simple steps you can protect yourself and your family from the devastating effects of air pollutants on our health:
· Check the daily air quality forecasts for your city or town (many websites and applications are available to track the outdoor air pollution). Use this information to plan your activities, reduce energetic outdoor activities near busy roads especially during rush hour and encourage yourself and your children to do them in the morning or late in the evening.
· Poor air quality in your home can do even more harm to your health than air pollution outdoor. There are now a variety of smart indoor air quality monitors to measure the levels of most home air pollutants. Remember to keep your house clean, get more houseplants, make your house a non-smoking zone, on high air-pollution days keep the windows closed and use air purifiers for filtering the air inside your home.
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