Impact of PM2.5 on the elderly
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Elderly people typically develop degenerative changes which making this special population become more susceptible to get sick, especially in some elderly people who have had underlying diseases. A cloud of ultra-fine dust particles known as PM2.5 has recently returned to Thailand, mainly in Bangkok and nearby areas. This air pollution can be fully inhaled and absorbed into blood circulation, causing a wide range of health problems particularly in the elderly group.
The sources of PM2.5
Fine particulate matters (PM) are typically caused by human activities. However, wind and rain greatly help to dilute the fine dust concentration scattering in the air, allowing the level to fall below safe threshold. In the circumstance of static environment, ultra-fine particles are kept and the concentration rises to exceed the safe threshold level.
Sources of PM2.5 include:
- Incomplete combustion
- Construction sites
- Forest fire, wildfire
- Rubbish burning
- Cigarette smoke
Impact of PM2.5 on human health
- Accumulation in blood circulation: Fine particulate matter deposits in the blood vessels can potentially lead to narrowed vessels, increased chances of stroke and cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death.
- Accumulation in the lung: In elderly patients with underlying respiratory diseases such as emphysema and asthma, ultra-fine particles can greatly trigger the exacerbation of these diseases. More dangerously, if the patients expose to these fine particles with large amount and long period of time, it might increase the risks of developing lung cancer.
- Accumulation in the brain: Deposits of fine particles can induce the secretion of various inflammatory substances, causing brain damages and accelerating degenerative conditions.
Tips to cope with PM2.5
- Avoiding exposure to outdoor activities. If exercise is needed, indoor gym is highly preferred instead of outdoor ones.
- Staying in the building as much as possible. Open air activities should be avoided or limited. If necessary, duration of activities must be as short as possible. N95 masks and sun-glasses must be worn at all times.
- Air purifiers are highly recommended to be installed in the elderly’s bedroom.
- Regular house cleaning. Windows should be closed in order to prevent the dust coming into the house.
- Keeping updated on weather forecast.