Common Pollutants and How They Affect your Body

Air pollutions is becoming increasingly worrisome for health conscious individuals. Machinery, removal of plant life, and vehicles are all contributing to poor air quality. Respiratory health issues and various cancers are on the rise. We are adding pollutants to the environment too fast for it to fully recover. Awareness of these toxins can help you to protect your body.


Lead complications have decreased immensely over the years. Intense efforts aimed towards regulation of lead emissions has contributed to this change. Lead in paint and children’s toys remained a concern for a length of time. The main source of pollution at present is the release of lead into the air from smelters. Lead is a big concern for children due to its disruption of the nervous system. Developmental problems can occur when children inhale lead or put items containing lead into their mouths. Reproductive complications, kidney failure, and heart problems are also known to occur. Older homes should be checked for lead paint on the walls and in the surrounding soil. Measures should be taken to cover the paint with a less toxic version. Soil around older homes should not be used for growing edible plants. Check surrounding areas for plants with lead emissions prior to choosing a home.

Particulate Matter 

Particulate matter is made up of various small items in the air that can enter your respiratory system. Highways and factories are danger zones for this type of pollutant. These particles are often referred to as inhalable or fine. Fine particles measure under 2.5 micrometers, while inhalable particulate matter is larger than 2.5 micrometers. The larger of the two normally comes from direct exposure to dust flying from roads or factories. Smaller particulates are found in the air after fires, and result from chemical reactions between a varieties of emissions. Particulate matter contains a variety of toxins, including acids, metals, and soil. The danger comes from their ability to reach the lungs. They pass through the nose and throat first, causing irritation. The matter builds up in the lungs over time. Avoidance of industrial areas and constructions zones can help to alleviate symptoms. Homes in the city should be equipped with high quality air filters to help keep indoor air clear.


Benzene is an industrial chemical. Despite its dangers, benzene continues to be used in drugs, gasoline, and pesticides. Widespread use of this toxin makes it difficult to avoid. It is also necessary to make many plastics, detergents, and synthetic fibers. Benzene is recognized as a carcinogen and contributes to cases of acute leukemia. This is accomplished by its negative effects on the bone marrow. Red blood cells are also decreased in exposed individuals, often leading to anemia. Natural sources of benzene include widespread fires and volcanic eruptions. Limit your purchase of plastics and synthetics to limit your exposure. Look for homes that are not near major highways to limit exposure to gas fumes. Education about products that use benzene in their production can help you understand what to avoid.


Ozone is not always bad. There is a proper place in the atmosphere for ozone. Ozone has three atoms of oxygen. Sunlight plays a large part in the chemical reaction that creates ozone. This reaction occurs between volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Hazardous ozone is caused by emission from factories, car exhaust, and solvents. Ozone that is beneficial to us exists in the stratosphere. This layer of ozone acts as a buffer between the sun and the earth. Asthma complications can occur in high ozone areas. Other problems include sore throat, chest paint, and congestion. Long-term exposure can cause scarring to the lungs. You can protect yourself by staying indoors as much as possible on high ozone days. Conservation efforts can also go a long way towards solving the problem. Reduce your driving and limit electricity use to reduce emissions into the air.

Sulfur Dioxide 

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) can be released into the air from natural occurrences. One of these is the eruption of a volcano. Humans contribute to the emissions by initiating industrial processes. Sulfur dioxide is included in a collection of sulfur oxides (Sox). It takes more than one chemical to make sulfur dioxide. This combination of chemicals is initiated during combustion in many power plants. Nitrogen dioxide interferes with this toxic substance and oxidizes it, causing acid rain. Respiratory distress is caused by this chemical compound.  Stay inside during acid rain, and avoid visiting areas near chemical plants to preserve your health. Inhalation is considered highly toxic and can be fatal.  Irritation of the nose and throat are the minimal symptoms from exposure to this toxin. Fluid in the lungs can occur from long-term exposure.

Pollutants are an ever occurring addition to our environment. Some toxins are released from natural disasters. These are minimal, however. Daily emissions of toxins are a side effect of modern conveniences. Your health can be compromised significantly from repeated exposure to common pollutants. You can protect your body by avoiding chemical plants, checking your home, and staying indoors. Pay attention to daily ozone reports and research the types of industries that you live near.


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