Pollution and the Lungs

Updated May, 2022

* Air pollution permanently inhibits lung growth in children.  In fact, prenatal exposure can reduce fetal lung development, impairing lung function in childhood and permanently reducing the number of alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs.

* Brief exposure to ozone and particulate matter reduce lung function even in young healthy adults and the reduction can last for a week after the pollution exposure is over. 

* Air pollution causes lung cancer. 

* Long term ozone exposure causes an increase in overall mortality in addition to that from particulate matter. Most of the mortality is respiratory. 

*Long term exposure to even small increases in ozone cause as much emphysematous destruction of lung tissue and function as 29 years of cigarette smoking a pack a day.

Air pollution causes, complicates, or exacerbates virtually all pulmonary diseases, from mild reactive airways disease to fatal pulmonary fibrosis.

* Air pollution is associated with increased rates of serious lower respiratory infections, and hospitalization and death from most respiratory diseases from neonates to the elderly. 

* The correlation between the above health outcomes and ozone are still found at concentrations between one half and one third the current EPA NAAQS. 

*Air pollution causes DNA damage and cell death to lung cells.

*Wildfire smoke may be ten times more toxic to the lung than other sources of particulate pollution.

[Medical References]