The impact of air pollution on human health is well-documented. We know that exposure to high levels of air pollutants raises the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But there is growing evidence to suggest that air pollution does not just affect our health – it affects our behaviour too.
The internal combustion engine’s days may be numbered in California, where officials are mulling whether a ban on sales of polluting autos is needed to achieve long-term targets for cleaner air.
Britain is to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide pose a major risk to public health.
London may have the world’s most stringent rules against vehicle emissions by 2019, according to a proposal from Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Supplements of healthy fats could be an immediate way of cutting the harm caused to billions around the world by air pollution, according to emerging research.
However, the research also shows air pollution particles can penetrate through the lungs of lab animals into many major organs, including the brain and testicles. This raises the possibility that the health damage caused by toxic air is even greater than currently known.
Sadiq Khan issued the first “very high” air pollution alert of his eight-month tenure as London mayor, advising citizens to reduce physical exertion and avoid running outside.
Air pollution has been linked to heart disease for years, prompting concern as well as some skepticism, as the physiological steps showing a cause-and-effect have gone less understood. But now, a multi-year study has for the first time documented that air pollution thickens blood and hardens arteries, a condition that causes cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes.