Lung Disease and Air Pollution
Studies show an association between air pollution and an increase in hospital admissions and death due to respiratory disease.
Ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxide and airborne particles are the main sources of concern. All three are oxidants. These unstable molecules are a part of normal metabolism. But when exposure to oxidants in the air upset the balance, lung cells are damaged causing inflammation that makes the lungs more vulnerable to cancer and other diseases.
Inflammation can cause fibrosis, or scarring and thickening of lung tissues, which makes breathing difficult. In addition to breathing problems caused by inflammation, ground-level ozone can cause hyper-responsiveness to allergens and mucus production that exacerbates asthma and may even cause asthma in children.
Exposure to tiny airborne particles that lodge permanently in the lungs also causes inflammation.
Another oxidant, nitrogen oxide, impairs the infection-fighting ability of white blood cells, and therefore may increase the risk of lung infections.
Often there is the very unhealthy combination of exposure to oxidants and carcinogens. When lung cells are inflamed by the oxidants, they are even more vulnerable to the cancer-causing chemicals.
We can reduce the amount of unhealthy oxidants and toxins in the air,
by choosing clean, renewable energy, such as wind power, for electricity.