Implications of air pollution: the invisible danger

Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a clear link between air pollution and respiratory disease. If the case for environmental protection wasn’t enough, research is now revealing the direct effect of pollution on the health and wellness of human beings.

Day-in and day-out, from our cars to the metro and the office, we breathe the air around us with little thought of what we’re actually inhaling. As we embrace modern life, and high-density living only increases, we have to ask ourselves: what are the implications of breathing low quality air?

The link between health and air pollution

A recent study investigating the interaction of individuals’ genomes with their environments in Quebec, Canada found that “air pollution impacts gene expression and pathways affecting cardio-metabolic and respiratory traits when controlling for genetic ancestry.” This study demonstrates the direct impact a local environment can have on its inhabitants’  risks of disease, which creates concern over not only how – but where – people should be living. A couple more studies investigating the link between air pollution and genetics also demonstrated that air pollution can not only increase your risk of developing asthma, but exposure to poor-quality air could also increase the risk of autism for those who already carry a genetic predisposition.

Inspecting the air we breathe

In many parts of the world, such as high-density cities and factory-ridden urban sprawls, more and more people are donning protective masks out of concern for what is in the air they breathe. While various organizations have begun reporting on spaces that spell trouble for the air we breathe, what solutions are we putting into practice – as individuals and collectively? Various creative solutions are showing promise – including the development of softwares that help cities reduce CO2 emissions, solar/electric shuttle services, and the use of biomethane for clean transportation. In the meantime, individuals can do their part by opting for public transport or walking instead of driving, using more eco-friendly household products like vegetable oil-based detergent, and opting for electric rather than gas automobiles.