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What Are The Adverse Effects Of Pollution On Your Lungs? Experts Decode; Know Prevention Tips

Lungs play a crucial role in the human body. Increase in air pollution can negatively affect your lung health. Read here to know from experts the effect of pollution on lung health and much more.

What Are The Adverse Effects Of Pollution On Your Lungs? Experts Decode; Know Prevention Tips

High pollution levels are harmful to your lungs and other organs as well


  1. Air pollution has adverse effects on your lungs
  2. It is also harmful to your skin and other organs
  3. Stay indoors when pollution levels are too high

High pollution levels are harmful to your overall health in several ways. It especially deteriorates your lung health. Lungs are part of the respiratory system and lung cancer is among the most common type of cancers. It is extremely important to safeguard your lung from the potential risk factors. Prolonged exposure to pollution is one of these risk factors. Too much exposure to pollution can also increase the risk of several other diseases associated with your lungs. But many are not aware of what exactly pollution does to your lungs and how to protect your lungs. Keep reading to know these answers from different experts.

Effect of air pollution on lung health

Dr. Kumar Prabhash explains, "Pollution leads to inflammation, changes in enzyme activity, genotoxic effect, lymphoid tissue modifications in the lung and mutagenic effect. These effects on the lungs lead to various diseases. They cause an increase in episodes of asthma, fibrosis of the lung, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer etc. They also impact cardiac function when may indirectly influence lung function in these patients."


Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide
Photo Credit: iStock

Who are at risk?

"Someone exposed to pollution for long is at risk. But some people are at an increased risk. Children if exposed may get their lung development impacted. Adults with existing lung disease are at increased risk for complications. The elderly population and anyone with multiple comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac diseases, etc. again have higher chances of complications," Dr. Prabhash adds.

Also read: Keep Your Lungs Healthy With These Simple Methods

Are non-smokers at risk of lung cancer?

Dr. Nitesh Rohatgi elaborates, "Lung cancer is mostly associated with smoking. While that is by far the most common cause but it is not the only cause. Pollution amounts to 5% of lung cancers across the world. It is often a difficult question when you ask how to avoid or decrease the chance of pollution-related lung cancer. There is no straight answer but certainly, simple changes might help. Indoor plants and monitoring the amount of exposure to pollution over time are clearly of some benefit. Also, staying away from direct exposure to diesel, gases and smoke might help."

Also read: Lung Disease Or Heart Failure? Know How This 67-Year-Old Found Out That Her Recurrent Pneumonia Was Actually Because Of A Problem With Her Heart

How much pollution is harmful?

"Pollution by PM 2.5 or less particle size is hazardous to the lungs. The gases responsible include nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic carbons and furans etc. The main source of these comes from vehicles, industry, construction, dust and crop burning. As per Berkeley estimates, every 22.5 ppm is considered to be equivalent to one cigarette. So, if the ppm is 500, one is smoking about 24 cigarettes per day. In case the smoking index is 300 approximately, (means smoking 30 cigarettes per day for ten years) one is at a very high risk of developing lung cancer. In addition someone who is smoking, his risk of getting lung cancer goes up significantly. Purification of the air in your surroundings is required to reduce the effect of pollution on your lungs. Prevention of air pollution is the key to avoid damage to lungs," tells Dr. Shyam Agarwal.

Also read: Quit Smoking! Even Light Smoking Can Damage Lungs, Says Study; Some Practical Ways To Quit Smoking


Smoking significantly increases the risk of lung cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

How to prevent the adverse effect of pollution?

One must exercise daily to keep lungs in good shape throughout the year. A good diet aimed at fruits and vegetables also help in detoxification and boost lung health. Less exposure to pollutants, no smoking or tobacco use are the best measures to keeps lungs healthy. Avoiding pollution is easier said than done. Keep indoors clean to reduce pollutants inside the house.

(Dr. Kumar Prabhash, Prof and HoD, Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai)

(Dr. Nitesh Rohatgi, Sr. Consultant & Associate Director, Medical Oncology, Max Super Speciality Hospital & Max Institute of Cancer Care, New Delhi)

(Dr. Shyam Agarwal, Sr. Consultant & Chairperson, Medical Oncology, Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi)

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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