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Big City Living Can Mean Big Breathing Problems

Big cities offer an endless variety of housing, transportation, factories, parks, and office buildings. These urban areas also have air pollution that can cause breathing problems. In fact, the American Lung Association produces a State of the Air report each year, which includes a list of the most polluted cities in the United States.

About Air Pollution in Cities

Air pollution may be the result of small particles in the air, known as particle pollution, and ozone. Particle pollution is an environmental condition in which tiny specks of solids and liquids float in the air. Dust stirred up on roadways and everyday construction, particularly those that involve grinding or crushing, can create coarse dust particles that can be as large as 10 micrometers in diameter, which is about 0.000393701 inches across. Processes that involve combustion, such as motor vehicles, power plants, and some industrial processes can create fine particles measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller.

Breathing in these particles can increase the risk of lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association. Inhaling particulate matter can also cause heart attacks, strokes, visits to the emergency department, and even early death for people with asthma, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. Living near traffic increases your risk. Both ozone and particulate matter are associated with an increased risk of lower birth weight in newborns.

While people with lung problems or heart disease are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution in urban areas, healthy people can experience the effects of particulate matter in the air they breathe. Inhaling particulate matter can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and even reduced lung function.

Cars, trucks, trains power plants, refineries, industrial boilers, chemical plants, and other sources can produce pollution that, in the presence of sunlight, reacts chemically to create ground-level ozone. When it occurs in Earth’s lower atmosphere, the ozone molecule (O3) is harmful to air quality. Ozone, also known as smog, can damage the lungs.

Breathing ozone irritates your lungs, causing an effect that is somewhat like sunburn within your lungs. This irritation can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, increased risk of respiratory infections, heart problems, and more.

If you or someone you know lives in a big city and you are concerned about the effects that urban life will have on your respiratory health, speak with your doctor. You may benefit from an electron beam computerized tomography (EBCT) of your lungs. This non-invasive test can help your doctor detect signs of lung damage, diagnose the cause of your cough or other respiratory symptoms, and develop a treatment plan that helps you breathe easy in the big city. Optimize your health and contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. today and schedule a scan for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and colon cancer.