Air pollution at very high levels can have negative effects on everyone in the family from your little brother or sister to your Grandparents. It is estimated that you breathe 20,000 litres of air each day. This means the more polluted the air is, the more dangerous chemicals we breathe into our lungs.
Babies and small children are more likely to be affected by air pollution as they:
- breathe faster than adults
- have a developing lung and immune system
Children's lungs, immune system and brain continue to rapidly develop until approximately age 6, and the cell layer lining the inside of the respiratory tract is particularly permeable during this age period meaning pollution is easily absorbed. Compared to adults, children also have a larger lung surface area in relation to their body weight, and breathe 50% more air per kilogram of body weight.
Young adults will also be affected by poor air quality if they have any lung or heart conditions. Those living in cities with high exposure to air pollutants are at increased risk of developing asthma, pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections.
Parents and Grandparents can also be affected by air pollution. As people age, their bodies are less able to compensate for the effects of pollution. Poor air quality can aggravate any pre-existing health issues such as asthma and heart problems.
Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM) (especially smaller, fine particle pollution called PM2.5) have the greatest potential to affect the health of older adults. Fine particle pollution have been linked to asthma attacks, heart attacks and the development of chronic bronchitis. Ozone, even at low levels, can exacerbate respiratory diseases.