Did You Check the Air Quality Today?
Poor air quality negatively impacts your health, both in the short term and the long term. According to the National Institute of Health, air quality is impacted by “Vehicle emissions, fuel oils and natural gas to heat homes, by-products of manufacturing and power generation, particularly coal-fueled power plants, and fumes from chemical production.”
Some other factors to keep in mind that determine how air quality impacts your health are external factors such as your level of exposure, along with the duration of the exposure. Also, internal factors such as a person’s susceptibility, genetic makeup, and cellular activity are important. The World Health Organization states that dust, fumes, gas, mist, odour, smoke, or vapour are injurious to human health in inappropriate quantities and duration. Breathing in these pollutants leads to inflammation, oxidative stress, immunosuppression, and mutagenicity in cells throughout our body. It impacts the lungs, heart, and brain, among other organs.
Here are some notable impacts of poor air quality on your health:
1. Impact on the Respiratory System:
Poor air quality can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. It also leads to difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, unexplained coughing, or wheezing. People who have pre-existing or chronic respiratory health problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may experience worsened symptoms. Since exposure to poor air quality leads to reduced lung function and impaired lung growth in the long term, families with young children and seniors should take extra precautions.
2. Impact on the Cardiovascular System:
Exposure to poor air quality is linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. This happens because when fine particulate matter in the air enters your body’s bloodstream, the body fights the external foreign bodies by causing bodily inflammation, which impacts the healthy functioning of your cardiovascular system.
Pollutants in the air, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are known carcinogens. Long-term exposure to pollutants in the air can increase the risk of developing cancer.
4. Mental Health:
Research suggests that poor air quality may have adverse effects on mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
5. Pregnancy Complications:
Poor air quality can also be considered a factor in complicated pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems in children.
6. Systemic Inflammation:
When the body is exposed to air pollutants, it triggers the body’s inflammatory response, which affects various systems and leads to systemic failure and a wide range of health issues.
Natural solutions to keep you safe:
It is hard to control the impact of the environment on our health. Here are some tips to improve your well-being naturally and stay safe in places with poor air quality:
The number one preventive measure is to educate yourself and stay informed. Stay connected regularly to your local news and informational government websites to monitor the air quality reports in your area. Try to limit your outdoor activities, especially on the days when poor air quality is predicted.
Manage your home and work environment:
Invest in air purifying indoor plants, such as spider plants, snake plants, and peace lilies. They are known to help improve the indoor air quality of homes by absorbing harmful air pollutants. Be sure to research which plants are best suited for your living conditions. Also, make sure they are safe for you and your pets.
Make natural air purifiers such as activated charcoal or bamboo charcoal bags an everyday part of your life. They help with absorbing not only odors from your environment but also other air pollutants. You can also make use of essential oils, like eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil. All of these have natural air-purifying properties and are great as diffusers for your home.
For home cleaning purposes, adopt the ‘green’ approach. Try using natural and non-toxic cleaning products. This will help minimize the release of indoor pollutants.
When outdoor air quality seems to get better, open windows and doors to get fresh air indoors and ventilate your homes.
Manage your personal health:
Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking water helps you flush out body toxins and cope better with the poor outdoor environment.
Eat a diet rich in antioxidants to combat the effects of pollution.
Incorporate daily physical activity or a physical exercise regimen to help your body become better equipped to deal with the challenge placed on it by poor air quality. Regular exercise also improves lung function and overall health, making your body more resilient. Remember to incorporate indoor exercises depending on the quality of air outside.
Get ample and good-quality sleep to help support your body’s natural detoxification process.
Manage your mental state. Chronic stress weakens your immune system, so try restorative, stress-reducing tools such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
Remember that managing your health the ‘natural way’ involves being conscious, flexible, and making lifestyle adjustments as needed. Although the above natural solutions offer some help on most days, try to avoid or limit outdoor exposure, such as walks, exercise, grocery shopping, etc., on days with extremely poor air quality. Also, continue to follow official air quality guidelines and take proactive, precautionary action to safeguard your health.