Some people may think of pollution as an indirect threat, more likely to cause climate change or endanger other species than cause human illness. In reality, the air we breathe has a massive impact on our day-to-day health.
Air Pollution and Health…
- Air pollution, which occurs both indoors and outdoors, poses health risks to millions of Americans daily, contributing to many diseases. Air pollution has been ranked as one of the world’s greatest public health risks. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that more than two million people die each year globally as a result of toxic air.
- Research has linked air pollution to asthma, heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, pneumonia, COPD, lung cancer, memory loss, autism, and premature death. Obesity may cause a higher risk of suffering the effects of air pollution.
- Outdoor air pollution is usually described with relation to six criteria contaminants. They are ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and lead. Many other chemicals and substances can create toxic outdoor air, but these are the most common.
- People in industrialized countries spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. We work, study, eat, drink, and sleep in enclosed environments where air circulation may be restricted. Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.
- There are many contributors to toxic indoor air, including fire-retardants found in furnishings and building materials, household products, paints and paint thinners, radon gas, tobacco smoke, pesticides, allergens, and mold. Without proper ventilation, high pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods, even if the source is removed.
- Researchers have found that even a small reduction in air pollution improves life expectancy. Thanks to a drop in particle pollution between 1980 and 2000, life expectancy in 51 U.S. cities increased by five months on average, according to a 2009 analysis. Women seemed to benefit more from cleaner air.
Improving Air Quality…
- We contribute to outdoor air pollution in hundreds of subtle ways. While ultimately outdoor air pollution must be reduced as a matter of public policy, individuals still make a difference. Limiting the use of chemicals and making energy-efficient choices will reduce your personal contribution.
- Since we each have so much control over our indoor environment, that’s where we can improve air quality the most.
- Don’t allow smoking in your home, and if you smoke, try to quit. This alone will greatly improve the air you breathe day today.
- Change the filter on your furnace or air conditioner every three months. Using a high-efficiency filter further reduces pollutants by a third.
- Particleboard and other pressed woods often contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that can get released into the air. Considering replacing furniture made of these materials.
- Keep your home dry and repair all leaks. Mold thrives in wet environments.
- If you have carpeting, vacuum regularly. Carpets collect dust and dander.
- Keeping your home clean and tidy reduces indoor air pollution. However, limit your use of chemical household cleaners and air fresheners, which may improve the way the air smells superficially, but reduce its actual quality.
- Increase ventilation by opening a few windows every day for five to ten minutes, preferably on opposite sides of the house. (Remember, although outdoor air quality may be poor, stale indoor air is typically even worse by a wide margin.)
- NASA research has shown that living green and flowering plants can remove several toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air.
- Air purifiers can get rid of toxins and chemicals in the air, as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Purifiers with HEPA filters are often affordable and effective.
- Reductions in Air Pollution Found to be Associated with Improved Life Expectancy http://www.examiner.com/article/reductions-air-pollution-found-to-be-associated-with-improved-life-expectancy
- What are Six Common Air Pollutants? http://www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/
- Easy Tips to Improve The Air Quality in Your Home http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7858/easy-tips-to-improve-the-air-quality-in-your-home.html
- State of the Air http://www.stateoftheair.org/
- Does Air Pollution Cause Autism? http://www.naturalnews.com/038244_air_pollution_autism_university_study.html
- Ten Simple Ways You Can Reduce Air Pollution http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/Health_community/Community.html
- 10 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/improve-air-quality-tips.htm
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