Date of the last update: 17.12.2021
Smog is a very serious problem. These are primarily residents of large metropolitan areas who struggle with it, along with local and national governments. Unfortunately, this subject is still side-lined and only comes to the fore in Winter, when the smog caused by the lowered temperature negatively affects our health. However, the inability to breathe fresh air is not an invention of environmentalists, as some people would like to think. It is a real threat to our health which takes its toll every year. How does smog affect our lives?
Table of Contents:
You can read this article in 2 minutes.
What is smog?
Two main types of smog can be recognised depending on the place where it emerges, its chemical composition and conditions in which it occurs:
- London smog – also called classic or sulphurous smog. It is primarily caused by burning coal and sulphur dioxide emissions.
- Los Angeles-type smog – referred to as photochemical or oxidative smog. Formed during the summer months, it is composed of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.
Although smog is mainly discussed in Winter, both types occur in Poland. We are therefore exposed to its effects all year round.
How does smog affect our life?
There is no doubt that the degradation of our environment has a substantial impact on human health. Air pollution contributes to a shorter life expectancy by increasing the risk of respiratory diseases, cancers and heart diseases.
Studies show that children, elderly people and people with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases are most susceptible to smog. Due to the presence of particulate matter in the air, these people are more likely to suffer from respiratory infections, which – for both seniors and the youngest – can even be fatal. Moreover, high concentrations of dust can aggravate symptoms such as respiratory failure, hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias; this is due to the dust entering the bloodstream, among other reasons.
Inhaling dust can also negatively impact pregnant women and the health of the foetus. There are also indications that regular exposure to smog may contribute to an increased risk of cancer. As early as 2013, WHO recognised particulate matter as a carcinogen, as PM is proven to increase the incidence of lung cancer.
Smog versus mortality
The European Environment Agency (EEA) indicates that regular exposure to particulate matter caused more than 400,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries in 2018. It is thus still difficult to underestimate the enormous problem that smog is globally and in Poland. Particulate matter is thus unequivocally harmful, which has been supported by research and observations. It is therefore surprising that smog is still treated as a non-existent threat to our health.