If you’re living in an urban environment, smog may be nothing new to you. However, it’s worth paying attention to its volume and monitor its influence on your body. You may be surprised with some symptoms it causes.
Polluting particles are present in the urban air practically all the time. It’s inevitable due to the volume of car traffic and industrial activity. There are cities – like, for instance, Copenhagen or Oslo – that deal with this problem quite well. But even they are not able to reduce the emissions to zero.
How does the smog form?
The real problem comes when the smog forms. This phenomenon, which has become an integral part of the urban landscape, appears when the cold air masses mix with the polluting particles. As a result, a thick fog forms. At times, it can be deceptively similar to the regular one, but don’t get mislead – the pollutants it contains can harm you in various ways.
Can smog harm you directly?
In most cases, smog doesn”t affect you right away. It”s a process – if you”re exposed to air pollution for a long time, the particles accumulate in your respiratory system (and others, if they”re small enough), causing various diseases. A lot depends on the composition and intensity of the phenomenon. If the concentration of the polluting particles is high enough, you may experience the symptoms right away after the exposure. In extreme cases, it can even lead to hospitalization or death. That’s what happened during the Great Smog of London in 1952, which caused the death of 12 thousand people.
When smog appears in your city, it’s crucial to monitor the levels of particulate matter and toxic gases in the air. Most cities issue smog alarms, but the norms vary depending on the country – in Poland, for example, the upper limit of pollution is much higher than in Western Europe. That’s why it’s better to stay independent and verify the emissions on your own. You can do it through a free air quality map, such as Airly.org.
Which symptoms indicate smog poisoning?
Since the smog contains various particles, its influence on our bodies is quite broad. If it contains mainly PM 10 (the one with the largest diameter), its impact concentrates on the respiratory system. However, if the smaller particles (PM 2.5 and PM1) dominate, the implications may be multisystemic.
Which signs should be alarming to you?
#1 Chronic fatigue
The fatigue can be a result of a stressful lifestyle, imbalanced diet, or vitamin and microelements deficits. However, if you take care of the balance in your life but still feel chronically tired, exposure to smog might be to blame.
#2 Irritation of the mucous membranes
It’s one of the most common symptoms of long-term smog exposure. It doesn’t only cause discomfort but also weakens the immune system since the mucous membranes are our natural barriers against bacteria and viruses.
#3 Brain fog
Have you recently been having problems with concentration? Do you find it hard to focus and remember things? The reason may be the air pollution. The polluting particles – especially aromatic hydrocarbons – can get into our bloodstream and accumulate in the nervous system, causing cognitive decline.
If you’re searching for reliable data on the emissions in your area, check Airly’s air quality map.