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Air Pollution Ozone

6. Are certain population groups particularly vulnerable?

    Are there specific population groups that should be brought into special attention?

    WHO states: A number of groups within the population have potentially increased vulnerability to the effects of exposure to air pollutants.

    These groups comprise:

    • those who are innately more susceptible to the effects of exposure to air pollutants than others,
    • those who become more susceptible for example as a result of environmental or social factors or personal behaviour and
    • those who are exposed to unusually large amounts of air pollutants.

    Members of the last group are vulnerable by virtue of exposure rather than as a result of personal susceptibility.

    Groups with innate susceptibility include those with genetic predisposition that render them unusually sensitive, for example, to the broncho-constrictor effects of ozone or liable to produce an unusually marked inflammatory response on exposure to allergens. Very young children and unborn babies are also particularly sensitive to some pollutants.

    Groups which develop increased sensitivity include the aged, those with cardio-respiratory disease or diabetes, those who are exposed to other toxic materials that add to or interact with air pollutants and those who are socioeconomically deprived. When compared with healthy people, those with respiratory disorders (such as asthma or chronic bronchitis) may react more strongly to a given exposure both as a result of increased responsiveness to a specific dose and/or as a result of a larger internal dose of some pollutants than in normal individuals exposed to the same concentration of pollutants. Increased particle deposition and retention has been demonstrated in the airways of subjects suffering from obstructive lung diseases.

    Lastly, those exposed to unusually large amounts of air pollutants perhaps as a result of living near a main road or spending long hours outdoors, may be vulnerable as result of their high exposure. More...

    Source & ©: WHO Europe (2004)


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