How Pollution Could Affect Your Health

Environmental effects of climate change and the destruction of the ozone layer are well-known, but what about their effects on Americans’ health?

Poor air quality in densely-populated urban areas is a rising health concern that is gaining more attention. Summer months pose the greatest danger of harmful ozone gases and smog, Forbes reports. The magazine’s 2010 State of the Air report shows that more than 175 million, or 58 percent of Americans, are exposed to pollution levels that make breathing difficult, according to the American Lung Association.

Ozone gases and particle pollutants can severely damage an individual’s lungs, leading to lower lung function and premature death. Research has also shown that exposure to polluted air can alter the lungs of children, the ALA reports. Thanks to the Clean Air Act, the U.S. has far less of both pollutants now than in the past. Still, nearly 132 million people live in counties where monitors show unhealthy levels of one or both.

Los Angeles is considered the worst city in the United States concerning ozone pollution and Bakersfield-Delano California scoring the highest levels in year round and short-term particle pollution. While the cleanest US cities include Bismark, North Dakota, Cheyenne, Wyoming and Alexandria, Louisiana.

You can protect you and your family from ozone and particle pollution by really paying attention to forecasts that indicate pollution days at its worst. Avoid exercise in polluted areas and don’t allow smoking indoors. Unfortunately, as beautiful and relaxing as having a wood fire in your fireplace on a cold winter night, healthy air can be compromised.

Air pollution can be dangerous because individuals living in heavily polluted areas do not feel the immediate effects of the damage, leaving their lungs vulnerable to consistent injury. The risk of premature death should encourage individuals living in polluted areas to purchase a life insurance policy to protect their families in the event of death.

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