The human body is built to withstand a great deal of environmental damage. Even so, pollution has negative effects on the body. Pollution is filled with numerous chemicals such as mercury, lead, benzene, nitrites, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and pesticides. Once the chemicals are ingested into the body, they can cause serious, even fatal health issues. Pollution can even affect a foetus.
Effects on the Lungs
Air pollution, mainly ground-level ozone, causes increased rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and other chronic lung diseases. Asthma can occur where it didn't before, and established asthma cases can worsen. Allergies flare up. Inflammation happens and can lead to fibrosis. In some cases, breathing can be difficult and lung infections can set in. Additionally, pollution causes cell damage, which in turn makes the lungs more prone to become cancerous. As pollution makes its way to the lungs, pollutants can build up in the nose and throat, causing sinus problems, inflammatory issues and allergy responses. The possibility of infection skyrockets.
Effects on Blood
Once pollutants get into the bloodstream through skin or the intestines, the negative effects of pollution are spread everywhere the blood travels. A body's tissues and organs absorb the harmful chemicals, which can lead to numerous problems including blood clots, lymph node issues and bone marrow problems. Another concern is that pollutants can cause the blood to thicken. In time, this can lead to a build-up of fatty deposits in the vessel walls and cause damage to arteries. Cardiovascular disease is a massive concern. In serious cases, complications in the blood can lead to asphyxiation.
Effects on Skin
Due to its exposure to the elements, skin is a major target for pollution. Skin cancer is a major effect of exposure to pollution. Other effects include skin disorders such as eczema, acne, spots, depigmentation, tissue diseases and skin allergies. These are a result of airborne pollution, groundwater pollution and radiation -- car exhaust, cigarette smoke and smog are some of the culprits. The pollution can also cause skin to age faster as pollution causes elastin fibres and collagen to break down at a more rapid rate.
Effects on the Brain
Pollution can have serious effects on the human brain. Some pollution particles are able to make it through the membrane that keeps most harmful substances out. Brain tissue and spinal fluid can then become affected. Things to watch out for include headaches, brain cancer, Alzheimer's disease and any other negative issues that can arise in a person's brain. Brain inflammation and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's can also occur.
- Health Canada: Health Effects of Air Pollution
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Health Effects of Pollution
- "The Press-Enterprise"; Early Findings on Air Pollution's Effects on Brain Cause Concern; David Danelsky; April 2008
- "Understanding Environmental Pollution, Third Edition"; Marquita K. Hill; 2010
- "Environmental Science, Eighth Edition"; Daniel D. Chiras; 2010