Millions of people in the US and Canada recently experienced some of the worst air quality in the world due to the smoke from Canadian wildfires. Residents in New York were urged to stay indoors and wear high-grade face masks when going outside. While it has been known for some time that severe air pollution is harmful to health, recent research has shown that pollution particles can cause damage throughout the body, not just the lungs. Fine particulate matter can enter deep into the lungs and cause macrophages to trigger inflammation and damage cells throughout the body. Mounting evidence suggests that long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to the development of dementia, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer. However, there is still much to learn about the specific impact of airborne microplastics on human health. Air pollution has also been found to exacerbate hay fever, alter skin bacteria causing eczema, and develop food allergies in children. Heatwaves make poor air quality more dangerous, resulting in a higher mortality rate. Occupation also plays a significant role in exposure risk. While more deprived neighborhoods tend to have poorer air quality, this trend does not always hold true. Just as important as residential address is occupation, with significant exposure differences found between individuals in different professions.
How pollution affects air quality and health