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Air pollution

Related Terms

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Background

  • Air pollution is the contamination of air by smoke and harmful gases. These airborne pollutants can have serious negative effects on both indoor and outdoor air quality.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution can have a big impact on indoor air quality, which may affect a person's health. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.4 million people worldwide die annually, due to the effects of air pollution. In America alone, hundreds of thousands of people die every year from heart and lung damage caused by toxic air pollutants. In 1998, a study published in the journal Environmental Research estimated that $14-55 billion is spent annually on the human health costs related to outdoor air pollution.
  • There are many sources of toxic, or hazardous, air pollution. Six air pollutants actually represent the biggest health threats to the public. Known as "criteria pollutants," these are: lead (Pb), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas, ground-level ozone, and carbon monoxide (CO). Researchers have estimated that the damage caused by these pollutants may range from $75-280 billion annually.
  • Toxic air pollutants are hard to completely avoid, as they are released by common, everyday sources. For instance, gasoline, dry cleaning fumes, paint and paint remover, and common metals all produce potentially harmful air pollutants. Asbestos and mold can release indoor air pollutants that have negative health effects as well.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Health Impact/Safety

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Future Research or Applications

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.