How does air pollution affect the organs in my body? Air pollution can move from your lungs into your bloodstream and reach many organs. The connection between air pollution and our health has been studied for decades. Air pollution can affect us all - from asthma and stroke, diabetes and dementia, pregnancy loss and cancer - it increases the risk of a range of health problems and makes some existing conditions worse. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. "All of the organs in the body seem to be affected in some way by breathing in air pollution." Professor Frank Kelly, Director of the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London How does air pollution affect my brain? Research is beginning to point towards effects of air pollution on the developing brain, but more research is needed. Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, Feb 2016 Air pollution potentially increases the risk of getting dementia. Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study, Feb 2018 Are noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London, England, 2018 How does air pollution affect my heart? Air pollution increases risk of death from cardiac and respiratory causes, particularly among people with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory conditions. Short-Term Effects of Nitrogen Dioxide on Mortality and Susceptibility Factors in 10 Italian Cities: The EpiAir Study, 2011 Air pollution causes heart disease and is linked to high blood pressure. It increases the risk of heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, especially in older people and those with existing cardiovascular conditions. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-air-pollution/health-matters-air-pollution Breathing air pollution over the long-term is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease in adults, including furring of the arteries, following long-term exposure. Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, Feb 2016 How does air pollution affect my lungs? There is a strong link between air pollution and the worsening of asthma symptoms and it also plays a part in causing asthma in some individuals. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-air-pollution/health-matters-air-pollution Air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer. Cancer Research UK, How air pollution can cause cancer Air pollution can increase the risk of bacterial pneumonia. RCP, Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, Feb 2016 Exposure to air pollution is also linked to increases in coughs and bronchitis. WHO (2005) Effects of air pollution on children’s health and development There is an association between exposure to the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and cough and phlegm symptoms in adults. Green Facts Air Pollution Nitrogen Dioxide as retrieved 31/07/2015 What other health impacts are there from air pollution? Air pollution leads to increased hospital admissions and emergency visits. Monitoring the effect of air pollution episodes on health care consultations and ambulance call-outs in England during March/April 2014: A retrospective observational analysis, July 2016 The impact of acute air pollution fluctuations on bronchiectasis pulmonary exacerbation. A case-crossover analysis, 2018 Air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer, and may also increase the risk of bladder cancer. Cancer Research UK, How air pollution can cause cancer http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of carcinogenic risks to human, 2016 High air pollution is linked to low birth weight and can lead to premature birth and pregnancy loss WHO (2005) Effects of air pollution on children’s health and development Ambient air pollution and pregnancy outcomes: A comprehensive review and identification of environmental public health challenges, Nov 2018 Acute effects of air pollutants on spontaneous pregnancy loss: a case-crossover study, Feb 2019 Air pollution is linked to high blood pressure. Global association between ambient air pollution and blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Apr 2018 There is emerging evidence that air pollution increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes. RCP, Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution, Feb 2016  Effects of air pollution exposure on glucose metabolism in Los Angeles minority children, Dec 2016 Studies are showing that there may be an association between air pollution and poor mental health but more evidence is needed. Spatiotemporal influence of temperature, air quality, and urban environment on cause-specific mortality during hazy days, Mar 2018 Ambient air pollution and daily hospital admissions for mental disorders in Shanghai, China, Feb 2018 The association between daily concentrations of air pollution and visits to a psychiatric emergency unit: a case-crossover study, Jun 2017 How does air pollution affect vulnerable people? Babies and children are especially vulnerable to air pollution. “[Children’s] developing organs and immune systems – and smaller bodies and airways – make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.” Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation The cost of a polluted environment, March 2017 Exposure to air pollution, both during pregnancy and after birth, can affect children’s lung function development. In areas of high air pollution, it could be setting some children up for health problems throughout their lives. WHO (2005) Effects of air pollution on children’s health and development Impact of London’s low emission zone on air quality and children’s respiratory health: a sequential annual cross-sectional study, Jan 2019 Amongst children with asthma, those exposed to higher levels of air pollution suffer more frequent chronic respiratory symptoms. Green Facts Air Pollution Nitrogen Dioxide as retrieved 31/07/2015 To read more information and advice about air pollution and how to protect your family’s health, visit Me, my family and the air we breathe.