Sometimes it can seem like the world is caving in on itself and, in a sense, it is. According to the EPA, pollution is devastating the environment on an increasingly macroscopic scale[1]. Every geographical location is affected in some way and at risk of pollution’s long-term effects.

The damaging elements of environmental pollution are not limited to the outdoors; the indoors may pose an even larger risk. Depending on the ventilation of a home, air pollutants can concentrate to levels exceeding those found outdoors. Additionally, the use of intentional pollutants can compound the problem and contribute to premature aging and even the appearance of rashes[2].

Where We’re At

Recent government intervention via regulation has begun to curtail pollution’s exponential growth. However, the damage already done is extensive, and many researchers believe that a complete reversal of global warming is unlikely[3].

The detrimental effects of pollution and, to a larger extent, climate change, are not exclusive to the destruction of the environment. Humans are part of that ecosystem and are subject to its struggles.

What It Means

A study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that pollution likely leads to wrinkling and skin rashes[4]. Such factors are an obstacle for exercise regiments, which are difficult enough to maintain on their own.

Physical activity is imperative to a healthy and balanced lifestyle, although extended activity in especially polluted environments may increase the risk of asthma attacks and even heart and lung diseases[5].   
Environmental factors can equally damage one’s skin. Free radicals attack collagen and can dramatically reduce skin’s elasticity. Moreover, the body gradually loses its ability to guard against the presence of free radicals as it naturally ages.   

Urban vs. Rural

Urban environments are particularly harsh on the skin. A study done by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology compared the skin of urban women against that of rural women and found that urban women had more dark spots and wrinkling[7].

Given the population density of metropolitan cities, those living near the primary sources of pollution may require additional assistance to reduce environmental wear.   

What’s to Come

The world seems to be collapsing. The human footprint has grown too large, leaving no room for the balanced ecosystem its inhabitants once enjoyed and humans are experiencing the consequences of uninhibited industrial expansion on a significant scale.

Steps are being taken to right these wrongs in the form of environmental awareness, education and governmental regulation. And smaller, yet equally significant, steps can be taken by individuals to help mitigate that damage currently being done to the environment.

According to the EPA, homeowners can install specialized light bulbs, heat and cool their homes responsibly and, “reduce, reuse and recycle,” personal waste[8]. With these conscious actions from the largest organizations to the smallest individual, perhaps humanity has a chance of righting these environmental wrongs and forging a slightly safer future.

[1] EPA. Air Quality and Climate Change.     
[2] MedlinePlus. Indoor Air Pollution.     
[3] Harris, Richard. Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says.     
[4] Larrieu, Sophie et al. Are the Short-term Effects of Air Pollution Restricted to Cardiorespiratory Diseases?     
[5]Li, Fuzhong et al. Ambient Air Pollution in China Poses a Multifaceted Health Threat to Outdoor Physical Activity.     
[6] Vierkötter, Andrea and Krutmann, Jean. Environmental Influences on Skin Aging and Ethnic-specific Manifestations.    
[7] Vierkötter, A. et al. Airborne Particle Exposure and Extrinsic Skin Aging.      
[8] EPA. What You Can Do: At Home.