Air Quality And You - Health Effects Of Air Pollution
Air pollution is a mixture of many different gases and particles from man-made sources that include vehicle exhaust, smoke, road dust, and industrial emissions, as well as pollen.
Both short-term and long-term exposure to air pollutants can cause a variety of health problems. For people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – also known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis), air pollution can make it harder to breathe, trigger asthma attacks, or cause wheezing and coughing.
Air pollution also increases the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, and more severely affects people who are already ill. Children, the elderly, and people in low-income neighborhoods experience disproportionate health effects from air pollution. In Malaysia, there are significant disparities in asthma prevalence by race/ethnicity. And there are striking geographic disparities. Its prevalence is increasing and a local study found 13.8% of primary school children in Kuala Lumpur to be asthmatic. It is under-diagnosed and often not managed optimally. In ongoing surveillance of pediatric asthma deaths, 9 deaths have been reported in the past two years; and all of them have been due to inadequate assessment of the severity of the attack and hence under-treatment. There is an over-reliance on symptomatic and oral therapy and an under-use of anti-inflammatory therapy leading to inadequate control and, in some cases, death. It is also recognized that disparities in management exist due to lack of access to appropriate information, drugs, and resources.
Things That Affect Your Exposure To Outdoor Air Pollution
On any given day, the types and amount of pollution we breathe vary by our location, the time of day, and even the weather.
Proximity: Air pollution levels are higher the closer you are to an emissions source. For most of us, our highest exposure to air pollution occurs near busy roadways. But it could be a burning of thrash or burning of forest.
Time and season: Fine particle levels are often highest in the morning, but can be elevated at any time of day. Ozone levels are highest in the afternoon and evening.
Temperature: Fine particle levels often increase during unseasonably warm weather. Most unhealthy ozone days occur when daytime high temperatures exceed 33°C.
Weather: Malaysia weather patterns are humid and hot most of the time, therefore the air pollution level is constantly high. The only time when the pollution level is low is after the rain.
We tend to think of air pollution as something outside, but the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than outdoor air.
Malaysia on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Moreover, people who are most susceptible to the effects of pollution (e.g., the very young, older adults, people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease) tend to spend even more time indoors.
Common indoor air pollutants include smoke and lead dust. Carbon monoxide from a faulty furnace, mold from damp walls, or volatile organic compounds from a newly painted room also contaminate indoor air. And pollutants such as fine particles from candles or fireplaces (or from the outdoors) also affect our health.
Biological pollutants, such as mold, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroaches, may trigger breathing problems, allergic symptoms, or asthma attacks. Tobacco smoke contains some 200 known poisons, such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and at least 60 chemicals known to cause cancer.