Air Pollution
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Modern day air pollution poses serious problems to your health. According to the China Medical Association, lung cancers are 2-3 times more prevalent in the cities than the countryside, and air pollution is becoming “the biggest health problem in China.” 

While the contents in polluted air varies, heavy industries as well as everyday carbon emissions from vehicles all contribute to the pollutants we breathe.

Coal burning power plants, steel factories, and cement factories are the primary sources of air pollution. In 2000, China’s coal consumption was 1.4 billion tons. In 2012, that amount soared by 152% at around 3.5 billion tons, or one half of all global consumption. These coal power plants, steel factories, and cement factories produce 90% of sulfur dioxide discharge and 70% of nitrogen dioxide discharge and smoke. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Particulate Matter are the deadliest component in polluted air. They are designated as Group 1 Carcinogen. Fine particulates are suspended in the air, and when inhaled, penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstreams unfiltered causing: 

-Permanent DNA mutations
-Birth Defects
-Heart Attacks 
-Lung Cancer
-Premature Death

Particle Matter of 40 microns is the smallest the human eye can see. Particles this size can usually be filtered by the hair and mucus in the nose, but the dangers lie in particles smaller than 10 microns or PM 10.
PM 10 - Particles 10 microns or smaller can penetrate into the deepest part of the lungs, the bronchioles or alveoli, causing:

-Lung Damage
-Lung Cancer

PM 2.5 - When suspended in the air, these particles reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy. PM 2.5 can penetrate the gas exchange regions of the lung affecting other organs and the circulatory system causing:

-High Plaque Deposits in the Arteries
-Atherosclerosis (Hardening of Arteries)
-Vascular Inflammation
-Heart Attack 
-Exposure of only 5 ug/m3 a year is linked to 13% increase in Heart Attack

PM 0.1 - Particles emitted from modern diesel engines are typically the size of 0.1 microns. These particles pass through cell membranes into organs including the brain, they have been known to cause brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s Disease. 


Tips and Advice

Since no one can completely avoid air pollution, it is important to limit exposure whenever possible. The buildup of fine particles can cause problems both now and in the future. The following are tips published by various sources both domestic and abroad:
  • Check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily, and plan activities accordingly.? Avoid outdoor exercise when the air quality is unhealthy.
  • Close all windows and doors tightly. Drafts can bring in pollution.
  • Take a shower after being outside in pollution. Particles can be lodged in skin and hair.
  • Wear a mask when outdoors. Make sure the mask filters PM2.5 and smaller.
  • Avoid smoking indoors, and use the exhaust fan when cooking.
  • Get a HEPA grade air purifier for the bedroom. Indoor air quality can be just as bad as outdoor.


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