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Air pollution is one of the biggest problems our society is dealing with today. We have created it with overpopulation, industry and traffic and we need to be the ones to fix it. Repercussions and consequences could be too big for us to handle. We can already see the health issues it’s causing, especially to sensitive groups like children and older people.
If you want to change something – whether in your life or in the environment, read this article.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Air Pollution?
Everyone should get involved in fighting for better and cleaner air as this is pivotal to our existence. Here is how you can protect you and your loved ones from pollution.
Always check air pollution forecasts – There is an app you can download and check the situation daily. You can also check on TV, newspaper and several websites.
Avoid exercising when pollution is high – When the air is bad outside, you should do your exercises indoors.
Don’t play outdoors with kids and pets when air quality is poor or limit the play time.
Avoid walking or exercising in certain areas where there is a lot of traffic because even if forecasts are good, you would be inhaling a lot of gasses and this are is usually a lot more polluted.
Go green in your home by installing solar panels or saving energy during the day. You can improve air quality and help the environment in general. This will also you money.
Start an initiative in your local school to use clean energy buses.
Instead of driving, you should walk, use the bike or carpool. Buses, subways, railway, trains and other transport systems are also better than driving a car.
Never burn wood or trash because it creates particle pollution.
Use electric lawn care equipment instead of the one with gas.
Don’t allow anyone to smoke inside and support measures to forbid tobacco in public places.
Get involved on a daily basis.
What are the Most Common Side Effects on Your Health?
The tricky thing about air pollution is that even the healthiest people can experience health impacts of it. They can have difficulty breathing, respiratory irritation and other health issues. Your risks do depend on your current health but it will also depend on the pollutant types in your area, concentration of pollutants, length of exposure and so on. High air pollution can cause:
- Aggravated cardiovascular or respiratory illness
- Damaged cells within your respiratory system
- Stress to heart and lungs
It can have many other consequences, especially if we are talking about long-term exposure in relation to permanent effects.
Here are some of those side-effects:
- Lungs age much faster than usual
- Less lung capacity
- Asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, cancer
- Shorter life
People who are most susceptible to these issues are people with heart disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart disease, asthma, emphysema, COPD, pregnant women, children, outdoor workers, elderly people and athletes who exercise a lot.
They might experience issues even at lower air pollution. Their side-effects can also be a lot more dramatic and intense.
Of course, different pollutant cause different issues.
Here are some of the most common pollutants and the side effects they cause:
Ground-level ozone is created with volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen and UV rays. This is caused by cars, trucks, buses, construction, agricultural equipment and so on. It reaches the highest levels in the afternoon and early evening, most notably during summer. It can cause bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, lung damage, wheezing, chest pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and many others.
Particulate matter and smoke are a mixture of soot, smoke, metals, nitrates, sulfates, dust, water, rubber and so on. It can be emitted as smoke or form in the atmosphere. It’s linked to causing many serious health issues because they get deep into the lungs and bloodstream. Long term exposure causes decreased lung function, lung failure, aggravated asthma, chronic respiratory disease, nonfatal heart attacks, premature death, lung cancer and so on. Even healthy people experience irritation of eyes, nose and throat, coughing, shortness of breath and many other issues.
Reducing the Effects of Air Pollution on Your Health
The air has been getting cleaner for several decades since the Clean Air Act. But, this doesn’t mean that these changes are happening quickly or that the danger of air pollution is decreasing. This can damage your health and with people with serious conditions already, it can be even more dangerous. Particulates from dust, smoke and other elements have effects even on the healthiest of people. It’s also a cause for lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.
We are exposed to dirty air daily and the emissions, while they have reduced in the past, have stopped reducing in such big numbers. There is a general slowdown in efforts around the world even though we may be in more danger now than ever.
While power plants and cars have become cleaner, heavy duty diesel trucks, industrial equipment and construction are creating more pollution with their unhealthy emissions and practices.
In addition to playing a role in heart and lung diseases, there are many more health issues that air pollution can cause. It can be related to poor bone health as well, mental distress, poor sperm quality and so on.
For healthy individuals, though, the pollution may not pose so much danger. Reducing exposure is, however, the most important thing for children, older adults, people with asthma, heart diseases, lung diseases and so on.
Air pollution is the highest in the urban areas and around roads with a lot of traffic.
Here are some things you can do to reduce the effects of air pollution on your health:
Filter at home with air purifiers – Evidence says that they are effective and that they can be especially good for people with allergies and in reducing stress levels. They remove dust, smoke and pollen from the air.
Don’t smoke indoors and don’t use the fireplace as much – Smoke from tobacco is highly unhealthy and it can cause many health issues. The cozy fire is also bad because it releases many dangerous particles into the air and it causes a lot of indoor pollution. Gas stoves can also cause indoor pollution.
Avoid particle pollution or car and truck engine combustion because these are the biggest sources of harmful particles production in the air. If you work out outside and especially with heart and lung diseases you should go for parks and less polluted areas. Avoid roads. Don’t spend too much time outdoors when it’s really polluted.
If you live near a busy road, you should keep windows closed when there is a lot of traffic and open them during the night.
Improve your lifestyle by eating better, exercising more and getting your health issues under control.
Reduce your own pollution footprint by walking instead of driving. Take a bus or a train instead of a car, or use any kind of public transportation. Get an electric or hybrid car.
What are the Diseases Caused by Air Pollution?
Air pollution is one of the biggest issues in the world nowadays. Industrial activities and vehicular emissions are the biggest causes. It can cause many different diseases like asthma and COPD which can be caused by higher levels of pollution in the air. The effect is mostly visible on children.
Air pollution can cause lung cancer too – it’s most noticeable on people who live in places with no ventilation or people who work in polluted areas or have jobs that require being outdoors in very polluted areas.
Breathing in polluted air can increase the risk of heart diseases, especially carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide.
Pregnant women and newborns are at a lot of risk as well. Breathing in polluted air can be really dangerous in formative years.
How You Can Help Reduce Air Pollution
While air pollution is everywhere and you probably think that there is not a lot to do about it from your standpoint, you should take another guess. You can make an impact, even if the improvement only shows on your own family. Here are some steps you need to take to reduce air pollution:
Learn the basics – Learn where the pollution is coming from if you want to know how to protect your family. Do your best to research different types of pollution and how you can reduce them in your own home and environment.
Reduce your usage of cars – While it is convenient, cars are one of the biggest enemies to clean air. So, take the bus or any other mean of public transportation, walk or take a bike. These will be slower but the air will be cleaner, even if it is just one car. Otherwise, try to get a hybrid or an electric car.
Have a garden – Planting herbs, plants and trees is one of the best ways to clear the air in your own home but also in the neighborhood. Do your best to plant something new frequently and keep it healthy. This can be a fun activity for the whole family.