The Impact of Air Quality on Our Health
Good air quality is essential to our overall well-being and can have a profound effect on our health and the environment. Unfortunately, poor air quality can lead to serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as other health problems. In this article, we’ll dive into the reality of air quality and its impact on our health.
Air Quality: What You Need to Know
Air quality matters in our health and well-being. It affects our respiratory system, our energy levels, and our overall quality of life.
Poor air quality can cause a variety of health issues, from asthma to respiratory illnesses.
Understanding air quality is the key to improving our health and well-being.
One fact that stands out is the constant presence of particulate matter in the air we breathe.
This includes dust, dirt, soot, and smoke. These particles are small enough to make it through our nasal passages into our lungs.
The EPA reports that particulate matter causes or aggravates many health conditions.
These include heart disease, lung disease and asthma – all serious health conditions.
The EPA also notes that many people are exposed to ozone at levels significantly above those considered safe by current standards.
Ozone can lead to chest pain when inhaled. It can aggravate asthma and cause inflammation of lung tissue.
This may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
A chemical reaction between sunlight and pollutants creates ozone in the air.
It is most often found near urban areas where automobile emissions are prevalent.
We Breathe A Lot Of Toxic And Cancer-Causing Chemicals
If you live in a city, you’re probably breathing a lot of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.
That’s according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which released a report saying that air pollution is one of the biggest global threats to public health.
The report says that over 3 million people die prematurely each year from the effects of air pollution.
Mostly from heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. Now making it one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
The WHO estimates that 92% of the world’s population is breathing polluted air. And it’s getting worse every year.
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“Air pollution is not only a major risk factor for disease but also for impaired cognition,” Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at WHO said. “They have also linked it to depression.”
The problem isn’t just confined to cities, either. The WHO says that ambient air pollution levels are increasing in rural areas as well.
And even if you don’t live in an urban area with high levels of air pollution, there are many other sources you may not realise are contributing to your exposure.
Many of these chemicals are emitted from vehicles and factories that burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.
Others come from industrial processes.
Some are used in consumer products. Including plastic bags or paints and pesticides that we use around our homes or gardens.
Air Pollution Affects Indoor Air Quality Too!
The air we breathe is a vital need for our survival. It’s important to remember that air pollution is not just an outdoor problem.
It can also affect indoor air quality too!
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of air inside buildings and structures as perceived by humans.
IAQ includes factors such as temperature, humidity, cleanliness, fresh-air exchange rates, and odours.
These factors are all related to each other and can affect health directly or indirectly.
Indoor air pollution comes from materials in the building itself, such as building materials used in construction or renovations.
This includes building materials used in furniture or appliances and cleaning products.
And don’t forget personal care products like perfumes and deodorants.
The most common sources of indoor air pollution are:
Building materials. These include paints, sealants, carpeting and insulation that off-gas formaldehyde into the indoor environment.
They also include particle board which can emit formaldehyde when heated.
Cleaning products. Bleach releases a gas which irritates the eyes and respiratory tracts. This can cause coughing fits, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Ammonia-based cleaners release ammonia vapours which irritate eyes and respiratory tracts causing coughing fits.
If you have asthma or allergies, then poor indoor air quality could be making it difficult for you to breathe comfortably at home.
This can lead to health problems later in life if not addressed now.
Children are especially vulnerable because their immune systems are still developing and cannot fight off infections as well as adults can.
Ways To Reduce Toxic Chemicals in Your Home
Many people are concerned about the presence of toxic chemicals in their homes.
Toxic chemicals are found in many common household products. Including cleaners, air fresheners, personal care products and more.
There are many things you can do to reduce the number of toxic chemicals in your home.
When you buy natural cleaning products, you’re eliminating many of the harsh chemicals that cause health problems over time.
Natural cleaning products are safe for you and your family, even if they’re used occasionally or daily.
They don’t contain harsh chemicals that cause respiratory problems or skin irritation when absorbed through the skin.
Also, they don’t contain any known carcinogens. These can be harmful if inhaled or ingested over an extended period.
Many people use air fresheners because they think they smell great.
But what they don’t realise is that these air fresheners often contain a toxic chemical.
Many of these will irritate sensitive skin and lungs if inhaled.
Instead of using chemical-based air fresheners in your home, consider getting an electronic air filter instead.
These use negative ion technology to eliminate unwanted odours from your home without having any adverse effects.
Wildfires, A Major Contribution to Poor Air Quality
Wildfires are major contributors to poor air quality and pollution as well.
The fine particles in smoke can travel deep into the lungs. This causes health problems for people with asthma and other respiratory issues.
The smoke from wildfires can also cause skin irritation and eye irritation.
It may also increase your risk of developing a lung infection or aggravate existing lung infections.
Wildfire smoke has many of the same components found in second-hand smoke. These include carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.
Chemicals can irritate your eyes, nose and throat and contribute to heart disease, emphysema, and cancer.
When wildfires release carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere.
These chemicals then combine with sunlight to form ground-level ozone, a major component of smog.
Smog can trigger coughing, wheezing and other respiratory problems in people who are active outdoors.
It also makes it harder for people to breathe when they’re exercising or doing strenuous work outside.
Smog can also make people feel sick because it irritates their noses, throat, and eyes.
The damage caused by smog is often more severe in urban areas than in rural areas, where pollutants can disperse.
What Can We Do to Improve Air Quality?
There are several steps we can take to reduce air pollution and improve air quality.
We can reduce vehicle emissions by using public transportation, carpooling, or using electric or hybrid cars.
Get started reducing fossil fuel use, and switch to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
Additionally, we can reduce air pollution by limiting the use of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves.
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The EPA recommends taking these additional steps to improve air quality:
Don’t burn trash outdoors. If you must burn trash outside, don’t burn more than one bag (or container) at a time and don’t burn it on windy days.
Don’t burn plastic bags or other plastic containers in your fireplace or wood stove unless they are specifically designed for burning.
They will release toxic fumes into the air if they aren’t completely burned.
Don’t let your car idle unnecessarily. Turn it off while waiting in traffic lights or in line at the bank or grocery store.
Avoid using aerosol sprays indoors. These contain volatile organic compounds that pollute indoor air quality.
Use non-aerosol products instead when possible. Also, avoid using paint strippers.
Air quality plays a major role in our personal and public health.
It affects the health of everyone, including children and the elderly, and it has been linked to lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis.
The air we breathe is not just oxygen, but also includes pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM). These substances can cause eye irritation, respiratory problems and even cancer.
Air pollution can be caused by many factors, including industrial activity, agricultural practices, transport emissions, natural sources like volcanic eruptions or forest fires, and domestic heating with inefficient combustion of fuels such as coal or wood.
Poor air quality can affect your health and the environment, as well as put a strain on your wallet.
The most common causes of poor air quality include:
- Smog, which forms when the sun reacts with nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by cars, factories, and other sources of pollution.
- Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that comes from power plants, vehicles and other industrial sources, or dust kicked up by strong winds.
- Ozone (O3), which forms when sunlight reacts with VOCs that come from power plants or vehicle exhausts. Ozone is not emitted directly into the air but forms high up in the atmosphere where it can be breathed in by people who are active outdoors during warm months of the year.
Air quality is a serious issue that has a direct impact on our health and the environment.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce air pollution and improve air quality.
By taking action to reduce emissions and switch to renewable energy sources, we can help create a healthier and more sustainable environment.