In the United Kingdom, air pollution causes over 40,000 early deaths and more than £20 billion in costs annually.
An absolutely staggering number. So, what exactly is air pollution?
Air pollution occurs when gases, dust particles, fumes (like smoke) or odours are introduced into the atmosphere to an extent harmful to humans, animals, or plants. It can get so bad that it can even cause diseases, allergies, and premature death.
Air pollutants come in many different shapes and sizes: they can be solid, liquid, or gaseous, and are generally categorised into primary and secondary pollutants. Primary pollutants are the direct results of a certain activity, for example carbon monoxide gas being emitted by a car exhaust. Secondary pollutants, on the other hand, are made when primary pollutants react or interact with their environment.
Is air pollution really that bad in the UK?
Theresa May recently proclaimed air pollution as the fourth biggest health risk in the United Kingdom behind cancer, obesity and heart disease. Those are big names when it comes to health risks. Should we worry? Maybe if you live in London. In London, the legal air quality limits are broken every year. London has some of the worst level of nitrogen dioxide in the world.
Those of us with asthma and allergies should know that certain forms of air pollution can worsen your asthma and allergy symptoms. The tiny particles in the air easily pass through our noses and mouth and enter into our lungs.
Air pollution can result in impaired lung development in children, pre-mature births, low birth weight, lung cancer, and heart disease. It can also have serious effects on our psychological health: “Heavy pollution is as ‘bad for happiness as bereavement or divorce’ research finds”.
Asthma and Air Pollution: What can we do?
It’s worthwhile to check the current pollution levels in your area. They’re easily found online and you should possibly avoid areas with extremely high values. If you do have to brave the outside world, try to avoid peak days and hours. Much like with allergies during peak season, staying inside helps. In reality, however, we just can’t let our lives be dictated by little particles in the sky.
Masks that cover your mouth and nose work, but there are other, less obvious, ways to protect yourself, such as nasal filters. NOSK is a personal air filtration system that fits right into your nose. Sounds like something you’d have to get used to, but it’s actually surprisingly comfortable.
It’s proven to reduce the inhalation of pollutants and allergens, and NOSK is, of course, classified as a medical device. NOSK's design helps to prevent allergens, dust, and pollutants from entering the body. That’s how it helps prevent symptoms of asthma and as well as protecting against the negative side-effects of air pollution.