Air pollution can affect our health throughout our lives. Working with Public Health England, we've pulled together the main health impacts for you, your children and all of your family.

 

Why is air pollution damaging to my body? How does air pollution damage my health?
How does air pollution damage my children’s health? How does air pollution affect me as an expectant mother?
How does air pollution affect the elderly? Where can I go to for advice about these health conditions & impacts?

 

 

Why is air pollution damaging to my body?

Air pollution is in the air that we breathe in. The particles and chemicals enter our bodies and can damage our cells in different ways.

Any amount of pollution can be damaging to our health, but the more that you are exposed to, the bigger the risk and the larger the impact it can have on you and your family.

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How does air pollution damage my health?

Air pollution affects your body in lots of ways. It can increase the risk of some health problems, and can make existing health problems worse.

Exposure to air pollution can increase cough and phlegm symptoms for adults and it can increase the risk of getting bacterial pneumonia.

Over the longer term, your exposure to air pollution can increase your risk of lung cancer. It has also been linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessels), including furring of the arteries.

Lots of research is being done around air pollution now. There is emerging evidence that air pollution can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and that it may increase the risk of getting bladder cancer.

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How does air pollution damage my children’s health?

Children are still developing their organs and immune systems and their smaller bodies and airways make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.

Because of their size, children are also often closer to sources of air pollution, like car exhausts, than adults.

Air pollution can play a part in causing asthma for some children. For children who already have asthma, being exposed to more air pollution can increase how bad their symptoms are and how often they have chronic symptoms.

Being exposed to air pollution can also affect children’s lung function development. In areas with high air pollution, it could be setting some children up for health problems throughout their lives.

Research is beginning to point towards effects of air pollution on children’s developing brains, but more research is needed in this area.

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How does air pollution affect me as an expectant mother?

Even before your children are born, air pollution can already be affecting them.

There is a link between being exposed to high levels of air pollution and low birth weight in babies, and it can lead to premature birth or pregnancy loss.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can also affect the lung function development of your baby.

Air pollution also continues to affect your own health while you are pregnant as well. Lots of mums find that they do things differently when they are pregnant. Some people get tired more easily and might therefore drive more often or take more taxis which can increase your exposure to air pollution.

Download our guide on protecting yourself from air pollution when you are pregnant

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How does air pollution affect the elderly?

In addition to the damage that can be done to you throughout your life by air pollution, there is now research showing that air pollution potentially increases the risk of getting dementia.

Many elderly people also find that they spend more time at home than when they were younger, and this may increase the amount of indoor air pollution they are exposed to.



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Where can I go to for advice about these health conditions and impacts?

If you are worried about the impact of air pollution on your health you can speak to your GP, pharmacist or asthma nurse.

For more information on asthma and asthma symptoms you can also visit the NHS website.

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What can I do to help protect myself from air pollution?

See our “What can I do” pages for suggestions of easy actions that you can take to help reduce the amount of air pollution you are exposed to.

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Find out more:

What can I do to help protect myself and my family