How Air Pollution Harms your Health - and How to Avoid It
In the past century, air pollution has reached its highest levels ever. As a consequence of the Industrial Revolution and fossil fuel usage, the air we breathe has been filled with unhealthy levels of harmful gases and particles. In recent years, there have been global movements and initiatives trying to curb its effect and attempting to stop any further decline in the situation. Nonetheless, the consequences are still felt.
Outdoor air pollution is one of two existing types, the other one being indoor. There are four major substances that are responsible for outdoor pollution. They are nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter. Nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide are gases released by burning fossil fuels. They can be very dangerous to the lungs, especially for people and young children suffering from chronic lung diseases such as asthma. Ozone causing pollution is different from the ozone found in the atmosphere – this one is found nearer to the ground and it is formed in the reaction between pollutants and sunlight. High levels of this gas can also deteriorate the condition of people suffering from asthma. Furthermore, particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of many different types of particles, both solid and liquid. They are especially dangerous if they are very small. According to the WHO, particles smaller than 10 microns can enter our lungs and cause serious damage.
How to Combat It:
Of course, the most obvious solution is to simply stay indoors on days when pollution levels are high. We can track the levels online as most countries have the means of doing so. Nonetheless, if you live in a highly-polluted area and need to leave your home, consider wearing a mask. They may not provide perfect protection, but they will provide some sort of shielding. And, we should mention that the levels of air pollution are not so high that we should be afraid of leaving our home. We should just take certain precautions in order to safeguard our health.
Indoor air pollution is quite similar to the outdoor one since the same type of pollutants cause it. What is more, people who use furnaces or stoves that use wood are at a higher risk of breathing bad air. The risk is even greater if their homes lack proper ventilation systems. The fact is that the particulate matter is in higher concentration in this situation and people breathe more of it in. And, we even welcome pollutants into our home when we open our windows and doors.
How to Combat It:
So, how can we reduce the levels of pollution and improve the quality of the air we breathe? It seems that we are surrounded by bad air everywhere we go, even in our own homes. Still, there is the option of investing in a quality air filter for your home. Good filters can remove even the smallest particulate matter from the air, including dust and other types of allergens. If you already have a filter and need a new and better one, you can find the best filter replacements here.
As we have said, air pollution levels are high. Even though the levels are not expected to rise in the future, their decline will be slow and gradual. Still, we need not despair because we can take some steps to improve the quality of our air.