We think of air pollution and health as primarily an issue for those with respiratory ailments or sensitivities. “Poor Air Quality” = “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” but what if everyone were a member of a sensitive group?
Air Pollution and Health in Women
Although not every woman is a mother or plans to be one, recent studies have shown that exposure to air pollution from car exhaust and smokestacks to pregnant women raises the risk of giving birth to an autistic child.
“Researchers at Harvard University have found that pregnant women breathing pollution from car exhaust or smokestacks have twice the risk of giving birth to a child who falls on the autism spectrum. Exposure to particles during the third trimester seems to be the main culprit. ‘We found an association that was specific to pregnancy and especially to the third trimester, identifying a window, which might shed a light on processes that are happening that can lead to autism,” said Marc Weisskopf, the report’s senior author and associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.'” NBC News via Seacliff Environmental Blog
Air Pollution and Health in Men
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and men are the most common victims.
“A significant body of research has shown that long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, can impact heart disease. Particles are emitted year-round in exhaust from motor vehicles and smoke from power plants, industries, and forest fires. PM also develops from chemical reactions in sunlight from vapor and gaseous pollutants.” Environmental Protection Agency
Statistics also show that heart attacks are more likely to be fatal on days when ozone levels are higher than usual.
Air Pollution and Health in the Elderly
Forget where you put your car keys? It may not be the dreaded Alzheimers, but it may be air pollution. A study has shown that exposure to air pollution–especially particulate matter–by the elderly may “accelerate cognitive decline in older adults.” I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep my wits about me as long as possible.
Air pollution is known to affect school performance in kids and cause healthy adults to miss more work days. We are all affected. Make sure the air you are breathing at home is as healthy as possible and try to reduce the emissions you add to the outside air from your car and your energy use. Everyone will be better off!