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Skin and air pollutants – does city air make us look old?

Air pollution is a great enemy of our health! But not only for eyes, lungs and heart, but also for our skin. The skin is the largest human organ in weight and surface area. The skin is like a protective coat and fends off environmentally harmful influences such as particulate matter, soot and smoke. However, this constant work that our skin does can also leave its mark. If the skin is exposed to continuous air pollution, skin problems and diseases result.

Where is the risk? The main problem for our skin is particulate matter: particulate matter results from air pollution. It is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets. Some particles we can see with eyes, e.g. soot, smoke, dust, but some can only be seen under a microscope. They are small but can cause so much damage.

As soon as the airborne particulate matter comes into contact with the skin, free radicals develop, which can attack and destroy the structure of our skin cells. For example, skin cancer, premature ageing and acne could be the consequences. In addition, air pollutants deprive the skin cells of oxygen, which makes the skin look dull and wrinkled.

This so-called «urban pollution» could become a health challenge in the coming years, as 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas where the problem of pollution is perceived to be particularly serious. And that number is expected to rise to 66 per cent by 2050.

Although air pollution is obviously worse in larger cities, living in a rural area does not mean there is less risk of exposure to air pollutants. Due to modern farming and ranching, rural areas are also increasingly exposed to air pollutants. For more information about particulate matter, click here

Therefore, the goal must be to identify and measure pollutant exposure and take and track appropriate protective and countermeasures.