While air quality has improved over the years, unhealthy air still poses a threat to the health of residents in the St. Louis Metro Area. Nationally, more than 100 million Americans live in communities with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Residents of the St. Louis Metro East are exposed to an assortment of air transmitted pollutants with varying negative health impacts.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air every day. Children breathe even more air per pound of body weight making them more sensitive to air pollution. People with heart and lung disease and older adults are also considered at great risk.
Breathing in polluted air can have immediate effects such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Spikes in air pollution levels can trigger chest pain, asthma attacks, lung infections, and even strokes and heart attacks. Respiratory visits to the emergency room and hospitalizations all increase when air quality worsens. Long term exposure to air pollution has been associated with increased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and neurological and reproductive problems.
Even if you are in great shape, air pollution still puts your health at risk. Due to the increased amount of air taken into the body during exercise, athletes are vulnerable too. According to the American Lung Association, athletes take in up to 20 times more air per minute while exercising. If air is polluted, 20 times more pollutants come in contact with an athlete’s respiratory tract, reducing lung function and interfering with his or her performance.
To learn more about air pollution and health, contact the Metro East Community Air Project at 618-514-7854 / firstname.lastname@example.org.