Blame the air pollution, not always him


Do not always blame him. It may be because of pollution.

Next time you find someone turning violent, consider the possibility that his behavior may be due to the bad effects of pollution.

Times of India carried a news item on Oct 5, 2019 stating US scientists have found strong links between short-term exposure to bad air and rise in aggravated assaults.

  • Researchers from Colorado State University (CSU) in the US analysed a set of studies, finding strong links between short-term exposure to air pollution and aggressive behaviour, in the form of aggravated assaults and other violent crimes across the US.
  • The results, appearing in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, were derived from daily Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime statistics and an eight-year, detailed map of daily US air pollution.
  • Scientists typically measure rates of pollution through concentrations of ozone, as well as of “PM2.5”, or breathable particulate matter 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, which has documented associations with health effects.
  • Eighty-three per cent of crimes considered “violent” by the FBI are categorised as assaults in crime databases, the researchers said.
  • They observed whether crimes occurred inside or outside the home, finding that 56% of violent crimes and 60% of assaults occurred within homes, an indication that many such crimes are tied to domestic violence. (Source: Times of India, Oct 5, 2019)

Pollution remains a major challenge in India also. World Bank says that between 1995 and 2010 India has made some of the fastest progress in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality in the world. However Environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues and long term livelihood impact for India.

Air pollution in the National capital Region has famously been a topic of Supreme Court of India’s active intervention in the last two decades, what with the stress on CNG vehicles, ban on ageing vehicles and so on. While all of us adopting modern lifestyles are contributing to overall pollution in the country, metropolises are the worst in India.

Searching the net I found an interesting site, which deals with overall health effects of air pollution. I request everyone to read the site content in detail to appreciate the importance of pollution control measures the country should adopt.


GASPING FOR BREATH (extracted from

Overall Health Effects

Even healthy people can experience health impacts from polluted air including respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities. Your actual risk of adverse effects depends on your current health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of your exposure to the polluted air.

High air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems including:

  • Aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness
  • Added stress to heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen
  • Damaged cells in the respiratory system

Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects such as:

  • Accelerated aging of the lungs
  • Loss of lung capacity and decreased lung function
  • Development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly cancer
  • Shortened life span

Those most susceptible to severe health problems from air pollution are:

  • Individuals with heart disease, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure
  • Individuals with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pregnant women
  • Outdoor workers
  • Older adults and the elderly
  • Children under age 14
  • Athletes who exercise vigorously outdoors

People in these groups may experience health impacts at lower air pollution exposure levels, or their health effects may be of greater intensity.

Health Effects from Specific Pollutants

Ground-level Ozone

Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react with the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The primary source of VOCs and NOx is mobile sources, including cars, trucks, buses, construction equipment and agricultural equipment.

Ground-level ozone reaches its highest level during the afternoon and early evening hours. High levels occur most often during the summer months. It is a strong irritant that can cause constriction of the airways, forcing the respiratory system to work harder in order to provide oxygen.

It can also cause other health problems including:

  • Aggravated respiratory disease such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma
  • Lung damage, even after symptoms such as coughing or a sore throat disappear
  • Wheezing, chest pain, dry throat, headache or nausea
  • Reduced resistance to infections
  • Increased fatigue
  • Weakened athletic performance

Particulate Matter (PM) and Wildfire Smoke

Particulate Matter is a complex mixture that may contain soot, smoke, metals, nitrates, sulfates, dust, water and tire rubber. It can be directly emitted, as in smoke from a fire, or it can form in the atmosphere from reactions of gases such as nitrogen oxides.

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles (known as PM2.5 or fine particulate matter) pose the greatest problems because they bypass the body’s natural defenses and can get deep into your lungs and potentially your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart.

Long-term exposure to particulate pollution can result in significant health problems including:

  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Decreased lung function
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Development of chronic respiratory disease in children
  • Development of chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease, including death from lung cancer

Short-term exposure to particulate pollution can:

  • Aggravate lung disease causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis
  • Increase susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Cause heart attacks and arrhythmias in people with heart disease

Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms, such as:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath



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