Our health, especially the condition of our lungs, is significantly impacted by the quality of the air we breathe. Particulate matter, also referred to as PM, is one of the main causes of air pollution.
To know more about how air pollution affects lung health and how to stay protected, read the following blog: https://bibo.health/blogs/wellness/is-the-air-we-breathe-killing-us-exploring-pollutions-threat-to-respiratory-health
In this blog, we will examine how particle matter contributes to pollution and impacts lung health in this blog.
Understanding Particulate Matter Pollution
The term "particulate matter" describes minuscule solid or liquid particles that are airborne. The two most prevalent sizes of these particles are PM10, or particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less, and PM2.5, or particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less. They can come from a variety of natural (like dust and pollen) and man-made (like industrial pollutants and vehicle exhaust) sources.
How do Particulate Matters Impact on Lung Health?
Inhalation and Deposition: Our respiratory systems, mainly the nose and mouth, are capable of absorbing particulate matter as it is discharged into the atmosphere. Bigger particles are frequently discharged by breathing techniques like sneezing and coughing that trap them in the upper respiratory tract. Smaller particles, particularly PM2.5, and nanoparticles, can enter the lungs more deeply, though.
Inflammatory Response: A variety of hazardous materials, such as chemicals, heavy metals, and organic compounds, are present in particulate matter. Immune cells, in particular macrophages, identify these particles as foreign invaders when they enter the alveoli, the tiny air sacs in our lungs where oxygen exchange occurs. This realization triggers a chain reaction of inflammation. Lung inflammation is caused by pro-inflammatory substances released by macrophages. Prolonged inflammation can exacerbate pre-existing lung disorders and cause further harm to the lungs.
Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress in the lungs can also be brought on by particulate matter. On their surfaces, the particles themselves contain a range of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals. By generating oxidative stress, ROS can harm lung tissues. Stress can cause harm to proteins, lipids, and DNA in cells, raising the risk of lung disorders and compromising lung cells' ability to function normally.
Impaired Lung Function: Reduced lung function is linked to prolonged exposure to particulate particles. This may show up in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, dyspnea, and heightened susceptibility to respiratory infections. Particulate matter exposure can worsen the symptoms of pre-existing lung disorders such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), making these people especially vulnerable.
Long-term Health Effects: Long-term particulate matter exposure is associated with more severe health issues in addition to its immediate negative impact on health. This includes an elevated risk of lung cancer and the emergence of chronic lung conditions like COPD and asthma. Furthermore, because oxidative stress and inflammation can impact not just the lungs but the entire circulatory system, particulate matter exposure is linked to cardiovascular disorders.
It is critical to promote cleaner air, lessen our individual contribution to air pollution, and take action to lessen the negative consequences of particle matter exposure—such as utilizing air purifiers and masks in highly polluted areas—in order to protect our lungs. Our comprehension of the underlying molecular processes allows us to recognize the significance of clean air for our general health.
- Association, A.L. (no date) Particle pollution, American Lung Association. Available at: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/outdoors/what-makes-air-unhealthy/particle-pollution (Accessed: 09 November 2023).