Our sense of smell is one of our richest and wide-ranging windows into the world around us, playing a vital role in what we taste, our social interactions and even helping us detect potential dangers. But a threat in the air we breathe may be eroding our olfactory powers.
For many people, a bout of Covid-19 gave a first taste (or rather a lack of it) of what it is like to lose their sense of smell. Known as "anosmia", loss of smell can have a substantial effect on our overall wellbeing and quality of life. But while a sudden respiratory infection might lead to a temporary loss of this important sense, your sense of smell may well have been gradually eroding away for years due to something else – air pollution.Exposure to PM2.5 – the collective name for small airborne pollution particles, largely from the combustion of fuels in vehicles, power stations and our homes – has previously been linked with "olfactory dysfunction", but typically only in occupational or industrial settings. But new research is now starting to reveal the true scale – and the potential damage caused by – the pollution we breathe in every day. And their findings have relevance for us all. 168ufa