By Hayat Srour

When purchasing a home, the natural instinct is to make sure your are investing in an area that is beneficial to your future. Some may consider locality of parks, markets, weather, cost of living, or even the school districts. These elements play a large part in the decision making of where you would ultimately set nest. One factor that should come into play is the health risks you may be exposed to. Air quality in any location can pose respiratory and other health risk to a susceptible person, family, and entire community. Among the two important air quality markers considered by experts in air pollution include ozone and particulate matter (PM) (click here for additional information).

Danger of Air Pollution

Source: https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/health-risks/.

Ground level ozone (O3 ) is a colorless, toxic gas that is produced when UV rays and oxygen react. This colorless pollutant can be messy, meaning it is hard to control and a product of our lifestyle (comes from chemical plants, cars, power plants, household reagents and equipments, etc.). Ozone is not only harmful to the atmosphere but when inhaled can sunburn our respiratory tract. Ozone has the potential to inflame the airway, stress the lungs and make it harder to breath.

PM is another air pollutant that is small enough to enter the body, pass all its defense mechanisms and do major harm. It can come from gas exhaust, dust (including both indoor and outdoor-generated), smoke, pollen, and basically any foreign matter with a diameter of 2.5 or 10 micrometers. These two pollutants do not discriminate but affect the people who are in close proximity, including children and the mature citizens. Did you know that children can be exposed to 3rd-hand smoke (click here for additional information).

Danger of Air Pollution

Source: https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/outdoor/air-pollution/particle-pollution.html.

If you plan on moving to a certain location its important to consider your surroundings. According to the American Lung Association, living close to major roads causes childhood asthma, cardiovascular morbidity and impaired lung function (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15496621). Studies show that long-term exposure roads can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), higher risk of premature death, and dementia. Now that we have the facts, should we avoid certain cities and/ or states? That is up to the readers.

Interestingly enough this information makes sense when studying about the nature of air pollution and functionality of the human body, it is another topic when applying it to reality. It is important to be mindful of the actions we have on the environment because in the end it may come back and attack us.

Click on the link to see if your city of interest makes the list of top polluted cities found in the US.

Hayat Srour

About the author -- Hayat Srour is a recent graduate of the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University College of Biomedical Sciences. Hayat is also a Research Assistant and Lab Manager in the RIPL_Effect Research Team under the mentorship of principal investigator, Dr. Félix E. Rivera-Mariani.

Sources:

  • Ebi, Kristie L and Glenn McGregor. “Climate change, tropospheric ozone and particulate matter, and health impacts” Environmental health perspectives vol. 116,11 (2008): 1449-55.
  • Andersen ZJ, Hvidberg M, Jensen SS, Ketzel M, Loft S, Sørensen M, Tjønneland A, Overvad K, and Raaschou-Nielsen O. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Long-Term Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution: A Cohort Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011; 183: 455-461.
  • https://www.lung.org
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15496621