Diseases and health complications linked to air pollution
Since Friday, there has been heavy atmospheric pollution in Mexico City - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Diseases and health complications linked to air pollution

Mexico City
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In the last days, Mexico City has been covered by haze, a burning smell and now it's plagued by environmental pollution

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Being exposed to atmospheric pollutants is associated with several health issues; nevertheless, many factors can play an important role, for example: how long and how often you are exposed to the pollutants, genetic susceptibility, what type of pollutants are in the air, among other factors.

According to the National Public Health Institute, these are some of the diseases caused by pollution:

1. Bronchitis

This disease is characterized by the inflammation of the lining of the bronchi. Bronchitis can be caused by a prolonged exposition to suspended liquid particles such as vapors or fog since these particles are so small that they can penetrate the bronchi and irritate them. On the other hand, solid particles are stopped by nasal mucosa and the larynx, also causing irritation.

2. Anemia

A prolonged exposition to carbon monoxide produces anemia and lack of oxygen in cells and the tissues because it affects the transportation of oxygen to the blood. The symptoms include fatigue, headache, and mental confusion.

3. Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis can cause eyes irritation. Cigarette smoke, vehicle emissions, and other toxic substances found in the environment are the main causes behind eye irritation.

4. Infertility

Although there are many causes behind infertility, studies have shown that factors such as environmental pollution and lifestyle have can impact the chances of conceiving. “Pollution directly affects the fertility conditions and although many pollutants are associated, it is now clear which ones (specifically),” explains Francisco Antonio España, an expert from the UNAM.
He adds that “It has been proven that there is a correlation between infertility in men and pollution, as the sperms are fewer and move less,” he says. And although it's not clear how pollutants affect spermatozoa, some researchers affirm that components found in fine particles, such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are linked to infertility.

5. Throat irritation

The carbon dioxide, generated mostly by electricity plants and other industrial processes, causes throat irritation, which worsens when the person swallows.

6. Asthma

Bad air quality can worsen asthma and even increase the incidence of this illness, which is caused by the inflammation and irritation of the bronchi. The symptoms include shortness of breath, choking feeling, and chest tightness.

7. Lung injuries

Nitrogen dioxide is toxic and damages the lungs. Some of the pollutants formed by the toxic substance are deadly for plants.

8. Trouble breathing

One of the most common components found among air pollutants is sulfur dioxide. This substance causes trouble breathing as a result of spams and contractions in the bronchi.

9. Increase in deaths caused by chronic illnesses

It has been shown that there is a relation between the presence of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere and the increase of deaths caused by chronic illnesses, especially cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.


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An environmental emergency was declared on Tuesday for Mexico City as smoke from nearby wildfires pushed pollution to dangerous levels
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