Natural aging is inevitable, but instances of premature aging are mounting and city dwellers have been shown to be at increased risk through exposure to elevated pollution levels from traffic-related sources, dust and fumes, but they’re not the only culprits.
Many researchers have focused their efforts exclusively on how elements ranging from manufacturing emissions to natural and artificial UV rays cause. Studies in other disciplines have demonstrated that multiple types of miniscule particles contained in air pollution significantly increase the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Those living in rural areas fare only marginally better, as pollution is disseminated by prevailing air currents and patterns. People exposed to higher concentrations of pollutants and those with prolonged and repetitive exposure to high levels are more negatively impacted, including joggers, bicyclists and those who have outdoor professions.
Even a city’s location and the layout of buildings can affect the levels of air pollution to which inhabitants are exposed. Cities that lie in a coastal position where winds blow inland have less dispersion of polluted air. The way buildings and structures are positioned also influence and contribute to trapping polluted air.
It isn’t just the raw nanoparticles in air pollution that results in premature aging – they also combine with sunlight to create secondary pollutants and ground-level ozone, a major component of smog.
Air pollution also encompasses quinones, chemicals derived from vehicle and machinery exhaust fumes, along with manufacturing and construction emissions. Smoke from industrial processes and natural causes such as forest fires contribute to the toxic mix.
The body’s response to air pollution is multi-faceted. Air pollution creates an inflammatory response and that reaction directly affects the amount of collagen produced. Collagen is a natural protein that gives skin elasticity and a youthful appearance. When collagen production decreases, the result is skin that looks dull, tired and saggy. Dark spots and overall darkening can occur, along with fine lines and wrinkles.
All of those pollutants are absorbed by the skin and hair; they adhere to clothing, and are inhaled into the lungs where they’re spread throughout the body. Those particles create free radicals that cause oxidative stress within the body and result in damage at the cellular level.*
The oxidative stress of free radicals has been linked to skin problems, grey hair, and chronic health issues encompassing lung and cardiovascular disease, along with fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, and decreased visual acuity.*
The human body manufactures a natural antioxidant called glutathione that neutralizes free radicals. When the body is exposed to high levels of air pollution, it can become overwhelmed and be unable to create enough natural antioxidants to effectively neutralize free radicals, resulting in premature aging and health problems. People with impaired immune systems are at increased risk as they typically produce lower levels of glutathione.*
No one can do anything about their genetic composition or a predisposition to demonstrating early aging, but there are precautions that can be taken in the war against premature aging caused by pollution. Immediately change clothes and shower after extended time outdoors and it helps to have an air purifier, particularly in the bedroom. The sun is brighter than it was 100 years ago, so always use appropriate protection for the skin.*
*Disclaimer: The statements and information contained on this website have not been evaluated by the Unites States Food and Drug Administration. The products featured on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.