Keeping the Air Clean for Our Health
- Saturday, 13 April 2013
Pollution knows no bounds. Carried by wind or water, pollutants can end up thousands of miles from the source. So the idea that only urban dwellers experience smog is a myth.
Due to the alarming rise in respiratory disease, air quality is a primary health concern. Indoor air quality can often be more hazardous than the outdoor air.
As a healthcare practitioner, it is important for me to discuss with families not only outdoor air quality but also the air quality in their home environment.
One of the greatest health impacts of air pollution is witnessed in the increased numbers of children diagnosed with asthma. Childhood asthma is the number one reason for school absenteeism.
Adults and children are being diagnosed at record numbers. Since the rates of asthma have increased exponentially worldwide, our greatest concern is now in taking measures to ensure greater air quality in the home and our environment.
What is Smog?
Smog consists of airborne particles and ground-level ozone. The particles are minute droplets (brown, white, or dark gray) that are suspended in the air.
These liquid particles of smog can remain in the air for days or weeks and pose serious health risks.
Ozone is a gas produced when air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides react and are naturally heated by the sun.
Tips for Keeping Our Air Clean
Carpool or move closer to your workplace.
Ride a bike to work. Or work from home at least one day per week if possible.
Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house to provide shade in the summer and decrease use of air conditioning.
Unplug any electronic devices that are not in use. (They still use electricity when they’re not on!)
An electronic air filtration such as a HEPA filter in the home can help improve air quality.
Avoid carpeting in the home and stuffed animals in the bedroom. These can be sources of dander, dust mites, and fireplace smoke.
Practice proper breathing techniques, which can improve tissue oxygenation and lymphatic flow.
Yoga and Qi Gong are practices that can teach about the importance of proper breathing.
Increasing dietary antioxidants in the diet and/or by supplementation may help benefit lung function. Talk to your healthcare provider before adding any nutritional supplements to your diet.
Avoid pets in the bedroom.
Use environmentally-friendly household cleaners to avoid toxic fumes at home.
Consider hiring an eco-friendly home cleaning service to assist with thorough maintenance of the home.
The key is to remember that all of these changes do not have to be made overnight. Sit down with your family and come up with a plan that works for all you.
It is our responsibility to be conscious and informed. Spread the message about clean air to others. Get involved and have fun!
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley