Take a deep breath. Or maybe, don’t: the director general of the World Health Organisation has just described air pollution as “one of the most pernicious threats” facing global public health today, and UK scientists estimate that air pollution can cut life expectancy by up to six months. But before you presume that the UK has got things under control, the news gets worse: the government recently lost two court cases over illegally dirty air, and by July 2017 must come up with a new clean air plan to tackle illegal levels of pollution across the country.
At the same time, more and more is being discovered about the long-term health effects of pollution. There’s now evidence linking pollution to heart attacks, lung disease and asthma, with other conditions like dementia still being investigated. What is known now is that the microscopic PM2.5 molecules found in polluted air are small enough to get into your lungs and bloodstream.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Many people have begun taking matters into their own hands: some London schools are considering issuing pupils with masks, environmentalists are calling for diesel car scrappage schemes and one council in Cornwall has even suggested moving people out of houses located in “pollution hotspots”. And inevitably, a whole industry of pollution-fighting products has sprung up. In China, since 2013's “airpocalypse” of record pollution levels, home air purifiers are on track to become as ubiquitous as fridges, and Mintel has identified anti-pollution as one of the beauty industry’s biggest growth areas. These and other products like them may provide a "sticking plaster" solution while our governments raise their game, but it’s worth considering the latest anti-pollution products to minimise the impact on your health and beauty.