The World Health Organisation considers air pollution to be the most deadly environmental hazard affecting our world today. Within an hour of being outside in a polluted city, your eyes will sting, your throat will burn, and your skin will be covered in a layer of grime.
But this is the pollution you CAN see. What about everything you can’t? A significant amount of pollution is made up of particles so small environmentalists need special microscopes just to view them. But what they lack in size, they make up for in toxicity.
Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers (about 25-100 times thinner than a human hair) easily breach the natural defence systems within our respiratory tract. These particle enter our blood stream and have been associated with the formation of free radicals. Free radicals use up all our natural antioxidants and lead to oxidative stress.
Researchers from the Institute of Medical Climatology and Rehabilitative Treatment analyzed the responses of 255 healthy volunteers living in areas with varying degrees of micro-particle air pollution. They discovered that people living in more polluted areas with finer particulate matter naturally produce more antioxidants. Initially, that is. Long-term, these stress-induced changes lead to long lasting changes in our immune system. They irreversibly impact on our inbuilt repair capabilities, increasing our risk of chronic disease.