We need air to live. We breathe an average of 15,000 litres of air every single day. The quality of the air we breathe can affect our health. In fact, the European Commission estimates that the average life expectancy in Europe could be one to two years lower in regions with the highest levels of pollution.
Globally, in 2012, 4.3 million premature deaths were traced back to air quality. In France, poor air quality is the 3rd leading cause of preventable death after tobacco and alcohol.
The number of people suffering from allergies has also doubled in the last 15 years. In France, more than 4 million people now live with asthma and
50,000 people suffer from severe respiratory insufficiency.
While everyone is affected, some people are more sensitive to air pollution. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with allergies are the most affected by poor indoor air quality.
The impact on pregnant women’s health
Pregnant women are all the more vulnerable and sensitive to air pollution as they breathe for themselves and their babies. Poor air quality can lead to complications for both mother and baby. Fine particles can enter the maternal respiratory system and cause the baby’s development to slow, particularly during the formation of the lungs and airways. The development of certain allergies as well as asthma can also be linked to poor air quality during pregnancy.
The impact on children’s health
When we are born, our lungs are not yet fully formed: they will continue to develop until we are about 8 years old. What’s more, children breathe about twice as fast as adults. If the air is polluted, they will breathe in twice as much pollution.
These two factors make children more sensitive and vulnerable to air pollution.
Living in a purified environment with a limited concentration of air pollutants can prevent a child’s body from becoming saturated and developing allergies or asthma.
In addition, children with allergies or asthma will be directly impacted by air quality because high levels of air pollutants can trigger attacks of varying severity.
The impact on the health of the elderly
Older people are doubly vulnerable to air pollution: firstly, as their bodies are less well protected, they react more strongly to air saturated with pollutants; secondly, older people, especially those living in residential care homes for the elderly (EHPAD), spend most of their time indoors, where the air is more laden with pollutants than it is outdoors.
In addition, the elderly often have pre-existing conditions, such as cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, that make them more sensitive to air pollution.
People with allergies and/or asthma who are sensitive to air quality
Pollutants in the air (volatile organic compounds, fine particles, pollen, etc.) are also aggravating factors in asthma and respiratory allergies.
For example, people with asthma or allergies have been identified as being more sensitive to air pollution, as have people with respiratory insufficiencies.
Air quality, does it affect everyone?
Finally, in some healthy people, even the slightest increase in the concentration of air pollutants can cause coughing and throat or eye irritation, while others will experience these symptoms only at much higher pollution levels, if at all. We are not all equal when it comes to pollution.
Learn more about Air Quality and the impacts on our health
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