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How does air pollution damage my health?


Air pollution affects your body in lots of ways. It can increase the risk of developing some health problems - and can make existing health problems worse.


Exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a range of health problems, including damaging the lungs, triggering asthma, increasing blood pressure, and increasing lung and heart related hospital admissions and deaths


Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause heart and lung conditions such as heart disease and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as well as lung cancer, leading to reduced life expectancy.

A line illustation of weather symbols, including the sun, a cloud that is raining, and a cloud with lightning

Exposure to air pollution can make coughing and mucus production in adults worse, and it can increase the risk of getting pneumonia caused by bacteria. There is emerging evidence that air pollution can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and limited evidence that it may increase the risk of bladder cancer. There is now emerging evidence on the link between air pollution and brain functions, such as memory, and increased risk of dementia.


Is there a link between air pollution and coronavirus?

Recent media coverage on the link between air pollution and coronavirus has led to increased interest in understanding what air pollution is and the associated health risks. In this video, we spoke to Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology and Honorary Consultant Physician within Medicine at the University of Southampton and UK Clean Air Champion to get the low down.

Video shows Professor Stephen Holgate discussing potential links between air pollution and coronavirus.

If you would like to find out more about where all the stats, facts and figures have come from, see our references page