Recently I published an article “Environmental Health is-What We All Want”, discussing the damaging effects of water pollution on our health and well being. So, what about air pollution and, health? Today, we will move our
attention to the other major cause of poor world-wide health and well being, air pollution.
Let’s get the official definition from Wikipedia on air pollution, Air pollution occurs when harmful or excessive quantities of substances including gases, particles, and biological molecules are introduced into the earth’s atmosphere. It may cause disease, allergies, and even death to humans, and other living organisms, and damage the natural environment.
For more information on air pollution from Wikipedia, read here.
Two major types of damaging air pollution dominate in the US, and in most of the industrialized nations of the world, ozone pollution and particle pollution. These two pollutants threaten the lives of millions of people not only in the US, but world-wide. Thanks to The Clean Air Act, the US has far less of both of these two pollutants now, than in the past. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with many other countries in the world. Still, 133.9 million people live in countries where monitors show unhealthy levels of both pollutants, meaning the air families breathe, could shorten life, or cause different forms of Cancer. So, what are ozone and particle pollution?
It may be hard to imagine that pollution could be invisible, but ozone is. It is currently one of the least-well-controlled pollutants in the US, and it is one of the most dangerous.
Ozone (o3) is a gas molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. Often called “smog”, ozone is harmful to breathe. Ozone aggressively attacks lung tissue by reacting chemically with lung tissue. The ozone layer found high in the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere, shields us from much of the Sun’s ultraviolent radiation. However, ozone air pollution at ground level where we can breathe it, causes serious health issues.
Ozone develops in the atmosphere from gases that come from tailpipes, smokestacks, and other sources. When these gases come in contact with sunlight, they react and form ozone smog.
The essential raw ingredients for ozone smog comes from nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons, also called volatile organic compounds. They are primarily produced when fossil-fuels.such as gasoline, oil, and coal are burned, or, when some chemicals, such as solvents, evaporate. Nitrogen oxide is emitted from power plants, motor vehicles, and other sources of high-heat combustion. CO2 is also a primary gas emitted from motor vehicles.
How does Ozone Harm Your Health
Premature Death. Ozone can shorten your life. Strong evidence exists of the deadly impact of ozone from large studies conducted in cities across the US, in Europe, and in Asia, and researchers repeatedly found that the risk of premature death increased with high levels of ozone. Newer research has confirmed that ozone increased the risk of premature death even when other pollutants also existed.
Immediate Breathing Problems. Many areas in the US produce enough ozone during the summer months to cause health problems that can be felt right away. Immediate problems, in addition to, increased risk of premature death, include:
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.
- Asthma attacks.
- Increased susceptibility to pulmonary inflammation.
- Increased need for people with long disease, besides asthma, and COPD, to receive medical treatment.
Cardiovascular Effects. Inhaling ozone may affect the heart as well as the lungs. A 2006 study linked exposures to high ozone levels for as little as one hour to a particular type of cardiac arrhythmia, that in itself increases the risk of premature death and strokes. A French study found that exposure to elevated ozone levels for one or two days increased the risk of heart attacks for middle-aged adults without heart disease.
Long-Term Exposure. New studies warn of serious effects of ozone over longer periods of time with more long-term data, scientists are finding that long-term exposure, that is, for periods for more than eight hours, including days, months, and years, may increase the risk of early death. Several studies link lower birth weight and decreased lung function in newborns to ozone levels.
Ever look at a dirty truck exhaust? Overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution can kill. Particle pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, lung Cancer, and asthma attacks, and interfere with the growth and performance of the lungs.
Particle pollution refers to a mix of tiny solids and liquid particles that are in the air we breathe. Many of the particles are so small, they are close to invisible, but when particle pollution levels are high, the air becomes opaque. But, nothing about particle pollution is simple, because of the various gases and liquids and small particles that comprise it, but know this for a fact, it is so dangerous, it can kill you or shorten your life.
The difference in the size of the particles make a big difference in how they affect us. Our natural defenses helps us cough, or sneeze larger particles out of our bodies, but those defenses don’t keep the smaller particles out. Those that are smaller than ten microns (about 1/7 the diameter of a human hair) get trapped in our lungs, while the smallest are so minute they pass through the lungs into the bloodstream, just like the essential oxygen molecules we need to survive, do.
Although we think of particles as solids, they can be a “mixture of mixtures”, and very complex. Some are completely liquid, some are solids suspended in liquids.
Particles can be very dangerous to breathe. Breathing particle pollution can trigger illness, hospitalization, and premature death, just like ozone pollution, risks that are showing up in new studies that validate earlier research. The impact to human health are very similiar to the ones discussed above on ozone pollution, with one exception.
Scientist have found links between particle pollution and mental health concerns. A study of 27,000 residents in South Korea, found that breathing particle pollution over a long period, increased the risk of major depression disorders. The risk was higher for those who had a chronic disease such as asthma, COPD, or diabetes. Older adults suffered more symptoms of depression and anxiety when particle pollution was higher. In a large study looking at data from community living, groups across the US, on those who live in lower socioeconomic situations, or had a history of respiratory illness, or heart disease, were more likely to have anxiety symptoms. So, it’s not only physical damage, but also mental and emotional damage.
The EPA concluded in December 2009, five particle pollution situations poses serious health threats in the forms of early death, both to short-term and long-term exposure, cardiovascular harm, respiratory harm, may cause Cancer, and, may cause reproductive and developmental harm.
Particle pollution is produced through two separate processes, mechanical and chemical. Mechanical processes primarily create coarse particles, such as from dust storms, construction and demolition, mining operations, and agriculture. Tires, brake-pad and road wear, can also create coarse particles. Bacteria, pollen, mold, and plant and animal debris, are also included as coarse particles.
By contrast, chemical processes in the atmospheres create most of the tiniest fine and ultra fine particles in the air. Some minute particles are gases emitted by burning fuels or other human activity, or by natural resources. These gases can oxidize and then condense to become a particle of a simple chemical compound, or combine with other particles, to form more complex chemical compounds.
Burning fossil fuels in factories, power plants, diesel and gasoline-powered motor vehicles, and equipment, generate a large part of the raw materials for fine particles. Other sources include burning wood in fireplaces, wood stoves, and wildfires. Now that you know about air pollution and, health, and how it effects you, let’s look at what you can do to prevent the damaging effects.
What You Can Do To Protect Yourself From Unhealthy Air
- Check daily pollution forecasts in your locale. Download the American Lung Association’s State Of the Air app, through iPhone: tune store. Other sources include local radio and TV weather reports, newspapers, or, for more accurate reporting in your own personal environment, which is what I do, use a quality air quality pollution monitor, such as the Air Quality Pollution Monitor and Sensor.
- Avoid exercise outdoors when pollution level is high. On high pollution days, walk in shopping malls, or go to a gym. Definitely restrict your children’s activities outdoors.
- Avoid exercising near high-traffic areas, even when quality forecasts are green, the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one-third a mile away.
- Practice using less energy in your home. Generating electricity and other sources of energy, creates air pollution. By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage independence and save money.
- (*) Start using an indoor air purifier to reduce air pollution entering your home environment. At the end of this article, are three highly-rated quality air purifier systems listed for your review.
- Walk, bike, or carpool. Combining your chores or shopping in one trip, or taking public transportation, instead of your own personal automobile.
- Encourage your children’s school to reduce exposure to school bus emissions. Schools should not allow school buses to idle on the school premises.
- Don’t burn wood or trash, which are among the major sources of particle pollution.
- Use hand-powered or electric lawn-care equipment, rather than gasoline-powered. lawnmowers, leaf or snow blowers, often don’t have pollution control devices, and can pollute air more than a car can.
- Don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public places smoke-free.
- Get involved and start checking out “fighting for air”, which has some more information on what you can do.
- Get out in nature as much as humanly possible, particularly in a forest, and deep breathe the clean clear air and allow your lungs and your body to rejuvenate itself, and self-heal.
Just so you’ll know, ozone and particle pollution are the most outspread forms of pollution. However, they aren’t the only serious air pollutants. Others in our atmosphere include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide, as well as, scores of toxins, such as mercury, benzene, formaldehyde, and acid gases.
Nourish Your Body With Fresh Nutritious Foods To Fend Against Harmful Affects Of Pollution
Eating the proper well-balanced fresh, organic non GMO, nutritious foods will go a long way in keeping you physically healthy, by lowering your stress and building your resistance and immune system, making it possible to fight off the harmful effects of air pollution. And, mentally, by not only reducing stress levels, but also reducing anxiety and depression. What to eat for health doesn’t have to be overly complicated. While some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important.
The cornerstone of a healthy diet pattern should be to replace processed foods, or precooked foods, and fast-foods, with real, fresh, wholesome food whenever possible. Eating food that is close as possible to the way nature made it, can make a huge difference in the way you think, look, and feel. And, don’t forget, and I can’t stress this enough, as much as humanly possible, buy and eat fresh foods.
If you have read any of my previous reviews on Maca, you will already be aware of the incredible, wide-ranging healthy benefits Maca offers, and how Maca can effectively build your immune system in combating the harmful effects of air pollution. If you haven’t previously read my reviews, take the opportunity now to read these two article HOW TO RELIEVE STRESS FROM: HORMONAL IMBALANCE and WHAT’S HEALTHY LIVIMG? (*) Check this review WHAT IS IN MACA ROOT, to get access to information on (specialty market) healthy, fresh, certified organic, non-GMO nutritious foods, and where to buy them. You can also get two FREE gifts, the e book THE SECRET SCIENCE OF STAYING SLIM, SANE, AND SEXY AFTER 40, and your 7-night trial sample of JULVA.
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- Oransi E1120 HEPA Air Purifier
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What are your thoughts on air pollution and, health? Are you willing to take action to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of air pollution? You, can only answer these questions. If you have questions, please address them below, and I will get back to you in a timely manner. Your comments are also welcomed.