How air pollution affects our health
All people are at risk from breathing in polluted air but those with greater exposure or susceptibility are most at risk – children and unborn babies, people living in cities with poor air quality, and office workers in poorly ventilated buildings.
Air is polluted by particles of harmful chemicals emitted during vehicle combustion, energy generation, and manufacturing processes.
These particles make their way into the human body where they can inflame and constrict the movement of blood in fine blood vessels which increases blood pressure. This can happen within the lungs, heart, and throughout the whole body, raising the risk of stroke or heart attack and heart disease.
The particles we breath in from polluted air are known as Particulate Matter or PM. The term is used to describe the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air.
Particulate matter varies in size; particles with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres are referred to as PM. Smaller particles are known as fine particulate matter or PM2.5 and have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres or one 400th of a millimetre wide. PM2.5 typically makes up two thirds of all particulate matter. It is considered to be the most harmful to human health.
Long term exposure to particulate air pollution can result in creating a health body burden.