Air pollution is one of the biggest threats of modern times. According to the findings of a recent study, published in JAMA Journal in the U.S., being exposed to air pollution is equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
The latest study looked specifically at emphysema, a condition that damages the air sacs in the lungs. It can cause wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, as well as increasing the risk of death.
Researchers found that higher levels of pollutants in city air - ozone in particular could cause emphysema to progress as quickly as would be expected from smoking an entire pack of cigarettes every day.
This was an extensive study too, covering 7,071 participants between 2000 and 2018 in six metropolitan regions in the U.S.
Chicago, Winston-Salem in North Carolina, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Saint Paul in Minnesota, and New York City. Data was pulled from air and lung analysis in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)
However, the problem is not just threatening people living in the U.S. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized air pollution as harmful as other cancerous substances. "The substances in the air should be below certain limits. When these substances increase, people start to sneeze and cough. These substances also find their way into air body and blood system which increases the risk of lung cancer," said professor Çiğdem Çağlayan.
Statistics on air pollution in Turkey are overwhelming. In 2017, air pollution reportedly caused more deaths than traffic accidents. According to national air pollution levels in Turkey, 56% of all city residents breathed polluted air in 2018. According to the WHO, the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş has the most polluted air while Black Sea Region province Ardahan has the cleanest.