Are some people more sensitive to air pollution?
Just as not all smokers suffer from tobacco-related diseases, not all people are affected by
ambient air pollution. Sufferers from lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease [COPD] and asthma, as well as heart disease, may find that their symptoms become worse
on days with higher air pollution.
Children are more likely to be affected by air pollution due to relatively higher breathing and
metabolic rates as well as a the immaturity of their lung and immune system. The elderly are also vulnerable
due to the decline in organ function with age and an increase prevalence of age-related disease .
Individuals mentioned above are often sensitive to a range of irritant substances and so air
pollution should be regarded as one of the factors that may affect their health.
If you are sensitive you can take steps to prevent or reduce the effects of air pollution
as you would other triggers. These may include avoiding going outdoors or exercising when levels
are elevated, and following the advice of your doctor, adjusting your use of medication accordingly.
Those not sensitive to air pollution may not notice higher pollution days, but are still at risk
through the long term health effects of air pollution.