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Airborne side effects: Airborne Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term


Airborne Elderberry Gummies – Side Effects, Interactions, Uses, Dosage, Warnings


This medicine is a combination of many different vitamins and minerals that are normally found in foods and other natural sources.

Multivitamins and minerals are used to provide substances that are not taken in through the diet. Multivitamins and minerals are also used to treat vitamin or mineral deficiencies caused by illness, pregnancy, poor nutrition, digestive disorders, certain medications, and many other conditions.

Multivitamins and minerals may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


What is Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral) used for?

  • Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation


What is the most important information I should know about Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral)?

Multivitamins and minerals can cause serious or life-threatening side effects if taken in large doses. Do not take more of this medicine than directed on the label or prescribed by your doctor.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use multivitamins and minerals if you have other medical conditions or allergies.

Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy. Some vitamins and minerals can be harmful if taken in large doses. You may need to use a specially formulated prenatal vitamin.

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Side Effects

What are the side effects of Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Minerals (especially taken in large doses) can cause side effects such as tooth staining, increased urination, stomach bleeding, uneven heart rate, confusion, and muscle weakness or limp feeling.

When taken as directed, multivitamins and minerals are not expected to cause serious side effects. Common side effects may include:

  • upset stomach;
  • headache; or
  • unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Can I take Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral) if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy. Some vitamins and minerals can be harmful if taken in large doses. You may need to use a specially formulated prenatal vitamin.


What drugs and food should I avoid while taking Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral)?

Avoid taking more than one multivitamin product at the same time unless your doctor tells you to. Taking similar products together can result in an overdose or serious side effects.

Avoid the use of salt substitutes in your diet if your multivitamin and mineral contains potassium. If you are on a low-salt diet, ask your doctor before taking a vitamin or mineral supplement.

Do not take this medicine with milk, other dairy products, calcium supplements, or antacids that contain calcium. Calcium may make it harder for your body to absorb certain minerals.

Dosage Guidelines & Tips

How to take Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral)?

Use Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral) exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

What should I do if I missed a dose of Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral)?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Overdose Signs

What happens if I overdose on Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral)?

Overdose symptoms may include increased thirst or urination, severe stomach pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, black and tarry stools, hair loss, peeling skin, tingly feeling in or around your mouth, changes in menstrual periods, weight loss, severe headache, severe back pain, blood in your urine, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, severe drowsiness, slow heart rate, shallow breathing, weak and rapid pulse, confusion, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, blue lips, and seizure (convulsions).

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on: Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral),  call your doctor or the Poison Control center

(800) 222-1222

If someone collapses or isn’t breathing after taking Airborne Elderberry Gummies (Oral), call 911


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Medical Disclaimer

Drugs A-Z provides drug information from Everyday Health and our partners, as well as ratings from our members, all in one place. Cerner Multum™ provides the data within some of the Overview, Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Pregnancy, Interactions, Dosage, Overdose, and Images sections. The information within all other sections is proprietary to Everyday Health. 

Ingredients, Purported Benefits & Effectiveness

Airborne and Emergen-C are popular nutritional supplements. They both contain high levels of vitamin C, as well as other nutrients. The products claim to boost your immune system.

However, you may be curious if they actually work against the cold and flu viruses. You might also want to know how the supplements compare.

Check out this article before you head to the store. We’ll explore the difference between Airborne vs. Emergen-C, as well as the effectiveness of their ingredients.

Airborne is an immune support supplement created by Schiff Vitamins. It’s available in various forms, including gummies, chewables, dissolvable tablets, and powder.

The powder comes in individual packets and the recommendation is one packet per day. One packet is supposed to be dissolved in 4 to 6 ounces of water, which creates a fizzy drink.

Here’s the information for Airborne Zesty Orange Immune Support Powder Packets:

Active ingredients

According to Schiff Vitamins, the active ingredients include:

  • Antioxidants: vitamins A, C, E
  • B vitamin: riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Minerals: zinc
  • Herbs: Japanese honeysuckle, forsythia, Schizonepeta (Japanese catnip), ginger, Chinese vitex, isatis root, echinacea

Purported benefits

Airborne is designed to support your immune system.

Side effects

Airborne is generally considered safe. The manufacturer does not list any possible side effects.

However, you may develop side effects if you take too much, due to the amount of vitamin C. One serving contains 1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. Your intake of vitamin C shouldn’t exceed 2,000 mg per day.

Consuming too much vitamin C may cause:

  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • heartburn

The potential side effects of the herbal blend are unknown.

Average cost

On the manufacturer’s website, Airborne Immune Support Powder Packets are listed for $14 for 20 packets. This equals less than $1.50 per serving.

Emergen-C is an immune support supplement. It’s available in different forms, including powder, gummies, and chewables. The brand is most known for their Emergen-C Immune+ Super Orange powder.

Like Airborne, the powder is available in individual packets. The recommendation is one packet per day. One packet is supposed to be dissolved in 4 to 6 ounces of water, creating a drink.

Learn about Emergen-C Immune+ Super Orange powder, below:

Active ingredients

According to the ingredient label, the active ingredients include:

  • Antioxidants: vitamin C
  • B vitamins: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folate (B9), cyanocobalamin (B12)
  • Minerals: zinc

Emergen-C’s Immune+ line also contains vitamin D and higher levels of zinc.

Purported benefits

Emergen-C claims to provide immune support. It alleges that this will help you feel good.

Side effects

The product is considered safe, but taking too much might have side effects.

One serving contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 25 micrograms of vitamin B12.

High doses of these vitamins may lead to:

  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • heartburn
  • dizziness
  • anxiety

Additionally, vitamin C may reduce the amount of vitamin B12 available in your body. It’s generally recommended to take the two vitamins separately.

The supplement also contains 10 mg of vitamin B6. Taking high doses of vitamin B6 may lead to nerve damage, causing tingling in your extremities.

Average cost

Depending on the retailer, Emergen-C Immune+ Super Orange costs about $6 for 10 packets. This equals approximately $0.60 per serving.

Here’s what the research says about the ingredients in immunity boosters:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the main ingredient in Airborne, Emergen-C, and other immunity boosters.

Your immune cells require vitamin C to function properly. This includes cells like neutrophils, which help fight infections.

The research is mixed on its effectiveness. According to a 2013 review, taking vitamin C each day reduced the duration of colds in 8 percent of adults. It also reduces the severity of colds.

There’s no proof that vitamin C will reduce or eliminate your risk of getting sick.

The review found that vitamin C supplements may be beneficial for people who do strenuous physical activities. Regular vitamin C intake may reduce their risk of catching a cold by about half.

Vitamins A and E

Vitamins A and E are essential for proper immune function. However, it’s unknown if vitamin A and E supplements help the cold or flu. There isn’t research on this benefit.

To date, most research has focused on pneumonia risk and older males. For example, an old 2004 study examined how vitamin A and E supplements affected the risk of pneumonia in older men who smoke. The researchers observed no effects.

A 2016 study also determined that vitamin E supplements may reduce the risk of pneumonia by 69 percent in men who smoke.

Researchers haven’t studied if vitamin A and E supplements can prevent the common cold. Studies involving the general population are necessary.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D regulates your immune cell response. It also suppresses inflammation.

But according to a 2018 review, it’s unclear if vitamin D supplements help against the cold or flu viruses. A 2017 study found that vitamin D can prevent acute respiratory infections. It may be most helpful for people who are deficient in vitamin D.

Additional research in the general population is needed.


Zinc is necessary for the development and function of immune cells. Zinc supplements are often used to treat the common cold, but the evidence is mixed.

In a 2020 study, taking 13 mg of zinc daily had no impact on recovery from the common cold. Meanwhile, a 2017 review found 80 to 92 mg of zinc per day can reduce cold duration by 33 percent.

This suggests higher levels of zinc may be effective. Yet, one serving of Airborne only provides 8 mg of zinc. One serving of Emergen-C contains 2 mg. These amounts are too low to provide the therapeutic benefits observed in research.

B vitamins

B vitamins are required for immune response, respiratory function, and energy metabolism.

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate are particularly important for the function of natural killer cells. These cells work against viral infections.

Though B vitamins are associated with a healthy immune system, researchers haven’t studied how they affect the cold and flu.

It’s possible to overdose on vitamins. The symptoms depend on the vitamin, but generally, high doses can cause:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • headache
  • abdominal cramps
  • heartburn
  • insomnia
  • indigestion
  • frequent urination
  • bone and kidney problems (with high vitamin D)
  • interactions with prescription medication

To avoid these side effects, follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s packaging. Avoid taking more than the serving suggestion.

The best way to strengthen immunity is to follow a healthy lifestyle.

This includes practices like:

  • getting adequate sleep
  • exercising regularly
  • prioritizing stress relief
  • improving gut health
  • eating a balanced diet
  • limiting processed foods
  • avoiding or quitting smoking
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • frequent handwashing

If you decide to take immune supplements, it’s still important to practice these habits. Supplements should complement, not replace, a healthy lifestyle.

Airborne and Emergen-C are designed to boost your immune system. Both supplements contain high levels of vitamin C, but Airborne also has riboflavin (vitamin B2), zinc, and herbs. Emergen-C contains B vitamins and zinc.

There is some evidence the nutrients included in these products can reduce or prevent sickness. But there are no studies on the specific products.

Taking too many of these supplements can also cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. You should balance taking supplements with other healthy habits to support immunity, such as eating well, limiting alcohol, and getting enough sleep.

Thermal pollution of the atmosphere, the environment

Thermal pollution of the atmosphere – a change in ambient temperature that disrupts the natural processes of the ecosystem, exceeding the natural range of its temperature variability. The increase in the parameter predicted for the next century is a serious health problem.

Elevated temperatures can increase air pollution in three ways:

1. Heat increases primary pollutant emissions.

Higher temperatures increase the energy consumption of air conditioning in buildings and vehicles. Additional energy consumption leads to more air pollution. Climate change with long warm periods causes the formation of plant allergens such as pollen. Other side effects are fires in forests and steppes, the pollution they create is carried by the winds and reaches densely populated areas.

2. The sun and heat transform and degrade the composition of the air mixture.

Sunlight and high temperatures cause chemical reactions between primary air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (exhausted by engines) and oxygen, causing a chemical reaction to form ozone. The hotter the day, the brighter the sun, the more O₃ is formed. Ozone is an active oxidant that exacerbates lung diseases and causes breathing difficulties in healthy people. Elevated temperatures convert primary pollutants into secondary, smaller, and more toxic elements. When inhaled, they can penetrate deep into the respiratory tract of the lungs, into the blood.

A group of researchers from the University of Bern (Switzerland) recently showed that secondary particles from the combustion of gasoline and diesel fuel in engines directly damage lung tissue, weaken the protective system as a result of their physical and chemical properties. As a result, pathogens (viruses, bacteria) enter the body more easily.

3. High atmospheric pressure keeps harmful substances at ground level, increasing their concentration.

Temperature inversion creates a stagnant environment. With light winds and no precipitation, pollutants are not removed from the air, but accumulate just above ground level. When air quality is poor, people may experience a sudden deterioration in their condition with shortness of breath, chest tightness, an irritable cough, or bronchitis.

Sources of thermal pollution

Thermal pollution of the atmosphere comes from natural and anthropogenic sources. In nature, localized temperature impacts can occur in arid regions prone to forest fires and dust storms. Human activity is the main source of changes in the atmosphere. Negative factors include:

  • Fuel combustion in vehicles (cars and trucks).
  • Production of heat and electricity (oil and coal power plants and boilers).
  • Industrial facilities (eg manufacturing plants, mines and refineries).
  • Domestic and agricultural waste dumps and incineration.
  • Cooking, space heating and lighting using polluting fuels.

Construction, concrete, asphalt, industrial activities have led to a significant increase in temperatures in megacities (compared to the surrounding area). This effect is called the urban heat island. The thermometer reading can be up to 11°C higher than in the residential area.

What are the consequences of urban heat islands

Increased heat increases discomfort, requires more energy for cooling, increases environmental pollution. Various environmental and government agencies are working to reduce the rate on urban heat islands. This can be achieved in many ways

  • Replacing dark surfaces with reflective or light ones. It has been proven that the black roofs of buildings absorb much more heat radiation. Dark planes can be up to 21°C hotter than light planes, and this excess heat is transferred to the building itself, causing an increased demand for cooling. The installation of lightweight structures helps to reduce energy consumption by 40%.
  • Planting trees. Green spaces contribute to shading, increase evapotranspiration, which reduces the ambient temperature. Trees can reduce energy costs by 10-20%.

Smog as a consequence of thermal pollution of the atmosphere

Increased heat improves photochemical reactions, and increases the number of particles in the air, contributes to the formation of smog and clouds. Moscow gets about 270 hours a year? less sunlight than the surrounding area. Smog is a brownish-gray haze that covers many of the world’s largest cities and is made up of dust, vehicle exhaust, and industrial production.

The phenomenon occurs because a warmer layer of the atmosphere is located above the city and prevents the normal mixing of colder and denser air. The environment remains still and over time, the concentration of pollutants increases, forming a significant amount of smog.

During severe inversions that last for a long period, the veil can cover entire metropolitan areas and cause breathing problems for residents of these areas. In December 1952, for example, such an event took place in London. Due to the cold December weather, Londoners began to burn more coal, which increased the accumulation of volatile harmful substances in the city. The result was the Great Smog 1952 years, which killed thousands of people.

Global warming as a result of temperature pollution of the atmosphere

One of the most significant consequences of air pollution is climate change. As a result of rising global consumption of fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen steadily since 1900 and the rate of growth is accelerating. It has been estimated that if the trend continues, the average global air temperature could rise by another 4°C by the end of the 21st century.

Warming is causing the melting of polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and flooding of the world’s coastal regions. There are changes in the structure of precipitation with adverse consequences for agriculture and forest ecosystems. Higher temperatures and humidity are increasing the incidence of disease in humans and animals in some parts of the world. Implementation of international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protect air quality and mitigate the effects of global warming.

Ways to tackle environmental problems

Air pollution can lead to cancer, stroke, heart attacks and acute respiratory infections in adults and children. The installation of modern treatment equipment will help reduce the negative impact of industrial emissions into the atmosphere. The company “ECOENERGOTECH” LLC offers to get acquainted with its developments. In the catalog of the enterprise, customers will find energy-efficient, cost-effective solutions that allow them to manage the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of industrial gases at the lowest cost.

The range is represented by catalytic converters for generator stations, special equipment and loaders, SCR selective cleaning systems for diesel and gas engines. The installation of the equipment allows reducing the concentration of harmful substances in the exhaust gases to the permissible values ​​specified by law. Tooling is created taking into account the initial production requirements. The use of productive systems will improve the environmental background in your region and avoid penalties from regulatory organizations.

what is it, where does it come from and why is everyone talking about it

Everyone is talking about fine particles of PM2.5 today: environmentalists, doctors, and the media. Why not talk to us?
What are these particles, where do they come from and why do they harm not only the respiratory, but also the circulatory system? Get ready for a long read.

What is PM2.5 and where do they come from

It is an air pollutant, which includes both solid microparticles and tiny droplets of liquids. Both those and others are approximately 10 nm to 2.5 microns in size. Other designations and names of PM2.5 particles: FSP (fine suspended particles), fine particles, fine particulate matter, fine suspended particles, fine dust.

Very small particles (of the order of 1 nm and less) are already gas molecules. For example, the diameter of a molecule of water and oxygen is 0.30 nm, nitrogen is 0.32 nm, and hydrogen is 0.25 nm. For such small bodies, the behavior is very different from that of PM2.5 particles. We will talk about gases another time, below we are talking about solid microparticles.

Why 2.5 µm? Looking ahead, let’s say: unlike larger particles, PM2. 5 easily penetrates biological barriers and therefore poses the greatest threat to the body.

All these particles and droplets smaller than 2.5 microns are suspended in the air. They are both in the forest and at sea, but it is in the city that they pose the greatest danger. Firstly, there are usually much more of them in the city, and secondly, the chemical composition of fine aerosol in the city is more dangerous than in nature. By the way, the composition of the PM2.5 aerosol and the parameters of individual particles can vary greatly in different cities.

What is PM2.5 particulate matter? Depends on where they came from. According to their origin, PM2.5 are divided into:

  • Primary PM2.5
    Thrown into the air already prepared. The smallest pieces of soot, asphalt and car tires, particles of mineral salts (sulphates, nitrates), heavy metal compounds (mainly oxides). Biological contaminants (some allergens and microorganisms) are also PM2. 5.
    A few words about soot particles. Coal is a good sorbent, so toxic compounds are deposited on even the smallest soot particles. When operating internal combustion engines, these are, for example, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with a large molecular weight. It turns out not just a particle of soot, but a particle “stuffed” from harmful organic matter.
  • Secondary PM2.5
    Formed directly in the atmosphere. One example: nitrogen and sulfur oxides are emitted into the city air, when they come into contact with water, they form acids, and solid particles of salts (nitrates and sulfates) are obtained from them.

According to the type of source, PM2.5 particles are divided into:

  • Artificial (anthropogenic)
    The main anthropogenic source of particles is transport. Internal combustion engines and industrial processes burning solid fuels (coal, lignite, oil), construction, mining, many industries (especially cement, ceramics, bricks, smelting), in cities, the source can be road erosion and wear of brake pads and tires. Even agriculture is a source of ammonia, from which secondary PM2.5 can be formed.
  • Natural (non-anthropogenic)
    Sources: soil erosion in dry areas and organic evaporation.

How much PM2.5 is in the air

The mass concentration of PM2.5 is a key parameter for assessing air quality and its threat to human health. According to the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), the average annual level of PM2.5 should not exceed 10 µg/m3, and the average daily level should not exceed 25 µg/m3.

The actual concentration of particles in the air is estimated by various environmental monitoring services around the world. The largest online air monitoring is The World Air Quality Index. It shows the air quality index in cities around the world. This index is considered for all air pollutants. And the main one is PM2.5.

The service is very good, by the way. Although the translation into Russian leaves much to be desired 🙂

Why is everyone suddenly talking about PM2.


In modern China, this abbreviation is known to almost every resident of the metropolis.

In the rest of the world, these particles are also “gaining popularity.” This is due to an elementary fact: PM2.5 particles are dangerous. And this danger is becoming more and more obvious. Between 1990 and 2010, 3.1 million people died from causes associated with PM2.5 particles. Another figure: PM2.5 particles shorten life expectancy by an average of 8.6 months. In total, 3% of deaths from diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and 5% of deaths from lung cancer are associated with PM2.5. The source is the latest major World Health Organization report on air pollution and its impact on human health. [1

(Links to this and other sources at the end of the article).

Everyone is accustomed to being afraid of harmful gases: if you inhale them, you will immediately be poisoned. Perhaps these are echoes of the war years and fears of chemical warfare agents, man-made disasters and gloomy pictures of people in gas masks. But in fact, the particles are no less dangerous. People inhale them every day. Small doses of PM2.5 do not react instantly like poison gas, but they accumulate in the body and can lead to serious problems over time.

That is why the WHO report is not about peak jumps in PM2.5 during industrial emissions, but about the chronic effects of these particles on the body. The volume of impact that residents of large cities are under every day.

Why PM2.5 accumulates in the air

In urban air, in principle, there are many different particles: small and large, light and heavy. Only heavy particles “fall” to the ground over time (remember the black snow next to some factory), and light PM2.5 practically does not settle. It is more difficult for small particles to overcome the resistance of the medium and “fall” to the ground. And for the smallest particles, Brownian motion also exerts resistance.

As can be seen from the table, for PM2. 5 particles, the settling rate is 15 times lower than for PM10, and is approximately 0.2 mm/s. This value is compensated even by a slight upward flow of air. And for the so-called ultrafine particles PM0.1 (with a diameter of up to 0.1 microns), the Brownian motion completely prevails over the settling rate. Therefore, this smallest fraction of particles may never settle at all.

Of course, part of PM2.5 is deposited, including with rain, but there are so many sources of these particles in the city that they constantly accumulate in the atmosphere. If you turn off the wind, “bricks will start falling” from the city air.

Impact of PM2.5: two hypotheses and six mechanisms

The main source of information about the effect of PM2.5 on the body is a report on the relationship between air pollution and cardiovascular diseases [2].

PM2.5 particles are also called the respirable, inhalable fraction. They are so small that they pass through biological barriers in our body: the nasal cavity, upper respiratory tract, bronchi. PM2.5, together with air, enters directly into the alveoli – bubbles in which gas exchange occurs between the lungs and blood vessels.

The smallest particles of PM2.5 can enter the blood during gas exchange. Therefore, they are associated with diseases not only of the respiratory system, but also of the cardiovascular system. Moreover, both the particles themselves and harmful compounds sorbed on the smallest particles of carbon black pollute.

In the early 2000s, a scientist named Peters (Peters) showed that exposure to the smallest particles causes two responses in the human body:

  • Conditionally “fast”: after 2 hours
  • Conditionally “slow”: after 24 hours

Trying to find an explanation for this, Peters put forward two main hypotheses about how PM2.5, and in general any air pollutants, affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Hypothesis No. 1: about the “quick” response
The essence: the smallest particles irritate certain receptors in the airways and trigger a reflex that changes the heart rate and breathing intensity. The nervous system works, and nervous regulation is always distinguished by a quick response to a stimulus.

Hypothesis No. 2: about a “slow” response
Essence: the smallest particles are deposited in the lungs, blood vessels and cause inflammation in them. In response to inflammation, the amount of special signal proteins, cytokines, increases in the blood. They start a chain of biochemical reactions that ultimately lead to thrombosis, and then to coronary heart disease, heart attack, etc. This response of the body takes longer than the nervous reaction.

To back up these hypotheses with facts, researchers tracked PM2.5 in the body and identified six major mechanisms of particle damage:

  1. Excitation of pulmonary receptors: increased respiration, cardiac arrhythmia
  2. Destruction of lung epithelial cells
  3. Development of an inflammatory response
  4. Increased blood clotting
  5. Destabilization of atherosclerotic plaques
  6. Vessel wall thickening


Excitation of pulmonary receptors: increased respiration, cardiac arrhythmia

Nerve fibers in the brain receive signals from receptors that are located in the walls of the respiratory tract: in the nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi and in the lungs themselves. These receptors respond to various stimuli: temperature, mechanical stress, stretching of the bronchial walls, etc. And as it turned out, PM2.5 particles too.

A particle has hit the receptor – a person may cough, itching and burning in the chest may appear. At the same time, the bronchi narrow, sighs become shorter, breathing becomes more frequent and superficial. So the body tries to inhale this muck less and get rid of those particles that managed to get inside. But such obvious reactions as coughing may not be, and the reflex response will be triggered.

In addition to respiratory failure, cardiac arrhythmia may occur. It is not yet clear exactly how PM2.5 affects the cardiovascular system, but there is a statistically significant relationship between them, this is a fact. An example of a study on this topic: work 19’99 Wichmann with a sample of 4,000 people. It shows that patients with arrhythmia became more by 50% each time after an increase in the concentration of PM2.5 in urban air.

2. Destruction of lung epithelial cells

PM2.5 affects not only the receptors in the walls of the respiratory tract, but also the cells of the lung epithelium themselves. And this influence is especially dangerous in the region of the alveoli – pulmonary vesicles entangled in a network of capillaries.

The diameter of these capillaries is very small, less than 5 µm. Red blood cells are literally “screwed” into them. At the moment of contact of the erythrocyte with the wall of the capillary, a single three-layer membrane is obtained: the wall of the erythrocyte, the wall of the capillary and the wall of the pulmonary alveoli. Such close contact between blood cells and the respiratory tract facilitates gas exchange: hemoglobin in the erythrocyte binds oxygen, and the cytoplasm releases carbon dioxide dissolved with the participation of carbonic anhydrase.

Endotheliocyte is a cell of the capillary wall. Surfactant is a “lung lubricant” to facilitate gas exchange.

This alveolar-capillary membrane is the first barrier to polluted air. In vitro studies [3] have shown that PM2.5 particles destroy this barrier. They slow down the growth and reproduction of lung epithelial cells and even kill them. If this happens in a test tube, it can happen in the body.

Why is the violation of the alveolar-capillary membrane dangerous? The fact that the main function of the lungs – gas exchange is disturbed. And this can lead to hypoxia (little oxygen) and hypercapnia (a lot of carbon dioxide). We wrote about hypoxia and hypercapnia recently.

3. Development of an inflammatory response

A few words about infectious inflammation. When microbes enter the body, immune cells secrete special proteins called cytokines. Cytokines send a signal of danger throughout the body. In the bone marrow, special immune cells – macrophages – begin to be produced. This is such a detachment of “siloviki” who can absorb and “digest” microbes. The battlefield of macrophages and microbes is the focus of inflammation.

Inflammation develops with a viral or bacterial infection. A reasonable question: can immunity not react to PM2.5? But he reacts. A study in rabbits shows an association between PM2.5 and inflammation in the lungs. In rabbits that inhaled air with a high content of PM2.5, increased bone marrow activity was noted. And the higher the activity, the more macrophages in the lungs.

Inflammation of the lungs in rabbits is one example. As you already know, the smallest PM2.5 can penetrate into the blood, and with it into any part of the body. Therefore, they can cause inflammation not only in the lungs, but also in the walls of blood vessels, and in other organs.

Having collected such data, a group of researchers led by Seaton and Dennekamp (Seaton, Dennekamp) suggested that the body’s immune response to PM2. 5 is the same as the response to pathogenic microbes. And not only can any inflammation in itself lead to a hospital, it is also a trigger for two other dangerous processes.

4. Increased blood clotting

The first of these processes is the acceleration of blood clotting. Blood coagulates under the influence of many biochemical factors. Speaking of PM2.5, fibrinogen and CRP (C-related protein) should be singled out among these factors. The mechanism by which PM2.5 triggers blood coagulation with the help of fibrinogen and CRP is known in detail.

In short, this is the mechanism. First, macrophages capture the particles. At the same time, they produce various substances, including special cytokines that stimulate the bone marrow and liver. The bone marrow begins to actively produce white blood cells and platelets (cells involved in blood clotting). And the liver begins to release fibrinogen and CRP protein faster. As a result, the blood thickens and the risk of thrombosis increases.

5. Destabilization of atherosclerotic plaques

The second process that follows inflammation is the so-called destabilization of fatty (lipid) deposits on the walls of blood vessels. We are talking about the very atherosclerotic plaques that are often talked about on TV. Almost every adult has these plaques in one form or another. They are located on the inner wall of the vessel and are protected by a special fibrous thickening, the so-called tire.

Macrophages capture PM2.5 particles and secrete cytokine proteins – in response to this, the MCP protein is released from the vessel walls. He, as a traffic controller, directs fresh macrophages and T-lymphocytes to the focus of inflammation. And if the focus is in fatty deposits, then macrophages and T-lymphocytes “in a fighting frenzy” can attack not only PM2.5, but also the cells of the body itself. As a result, at this point, the cells in the vessel wall die, the fibrous thickening weakens, and the contents of the plaque can jump out into the lumen of the vessel.

Increased blood clotting and pieces of lipid deposits walking through the vessels are two factors that significantly increase the risk of thrombosis.

6. Vessel wall thickening

And in order to completely finish off the cardiovascular system, PM2.5 particles also constrict blood vessels. A study with a large sample (5362 people aged 45 to 84 years) [4] showed a statistically significant relationship between PM2.5 poisoning and arterial wall thickening.

The specific mechanism of the process is not described in the article. Perhaps this is another manifestation of inflammatory processes. Be that as it may, thickening of the walls is another factor affecting the lumen of the vessels and the development of atherosclerosis.

Summary: what PM2.5 does in the body

Imagine a situation where a person breathes air with a critically high concentration of particles (for example, as in Beijing during heavy smog). Moreover, he breathes all day, without any respirators and without hiding in an apartment with a breather. How will his body react?

First, PM2.5 irritates the receptors in the respiratory tract, and the nervous system sends a signal to the lungs to work more often. The lumen of the bronchi narrows, the person begins to breathe often and shallowly, superficially. The load on the heart increases: arrhythmia, tachycardia. This all happens within the first 2 hours after inhalation, this is the so-called “rapid” response to PM2.5.

During the day, inflammation can develop in the body with a cascade of biochemical and physiological reactions. An increase in the level of cytokines, blood clotting, detachment of atherosclerotic plaques, thickening of blood vessels, thrombosis. This is the “slow” answer.

Outcome of this scenario: increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke).


In fact, the situation described above is extremely rare. Few people will sit 24 hours on the street when a red alert is declared in the city due to smog. It is difficult to imagine that a healthy person in one day will get coronary heart disease due to dirty air. Our generalization is rather a scarecrow about the ecological situation. But this scarecrow is based on modern realities, so it cannot be ignored.

In a large city, there are always PM2.5 particles in the air. It is a fact. And we inhale them anyway. This is also a fact. The question is what average daily dose of PM2.5 does the body receive. If the air is dirty outside, but at home we protect ourselves with breathers or purifiers, then we reduce the number of particles inhaled per day, give the body a break. If he manages to clear himself of debris and recover, the likelihood of the health problems listed above will be significantly less.

Another thing is if every day more harmful particles get into us than they manage to get out. Then they will accumulate in the body. Symptoms of “poisoning” PM2.5 will appear imperceptibly: out of breath a few steps earlier than usual, sometimes aches in the chest, the heart is pounding more often, and so on.