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harmful air pollution smog

Recently we published an article “Solutions In Water Pollution”, 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,  and discuss and provide Solutions To 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.  Poor air quality has long been linked to lung and heart problems, including coronary artery disease, emphysema, respiratory infections, stroke, and cancer.  It also is especially dangerous for pregnant women, as it can contribute to birth defects.

Air pollution can also negatively effect numerous other conditions, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable  to air pollution. In these 2 studies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) addressed the negative health issues of air pollution associated with young people and older adults.

Two major types of damaging air pollution dominate in the US, and in most of the industrialized nations of the world, “ground-level ozone pollution” and “particle pollution”, although there are others like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead.  These 2 major pollutants threaten the lives of millions of people not only in the US, but world-wide, such as in Iran.

A study by the NIH determined air pollutions have major impacts on human health, triggering, and inducing many diseases leading to higher mortality rates, particularly in the developing countries such as Iran.  In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) released new estimates stating that 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution, one in eight of total global deaths, making it the world’s largest environmental health risk.

Unhealthy Smokestack Air Pollution Emissions

Thanks to The Clean Air Act the US has far less of both of these two pollutants now, than in the past showing that adopted Solutions To Air Pollutions are.  working. A 2019 American

Thoracic Society study highlights that 25 years after enactment of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. EPA estimated that the health benefits exceeded the cost by 32:1, saving 2 trillion dollars, and has been heralded as one of the most effective public health policies of all time in the United States.

Emissions of the major pollutants of particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and lead were reduced by 73 percent between 1990 and 2015 while the U.S. gross domestic product grew by more than 250 percent.

However, research findings are also showing significant additional human health benefits when air quality is better than the current national ambient air quality standard. The estimate of lives that could be saved by further reduction of air pollution levels is more than thirty thousand, which is similar to the number of deaths from car accidents each year according to a 2019 Carnegie Mellon University study.

Even so, still 62 percent, or 200 million people, live in areas in the U.S. where pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter exceed the standards, and air pollution is responsible for killing an estimated 55,000 people per year in the U.S. alone, according to a SagePub study.  Unfortunately, and even worse death toll numbers are found in all other countries in the world than in the U.S.

Unhealthy Auto Emissions

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.  In the U.S., the EPA tracks air quality and you can see today’s air quality across the U.S. and your locale, by visiting The CDC “Air-Now” site.

Google Global Efforts

Google has taken the health threat of air pollution very seriously by partnering with Aclima a environmental-based sensor designer, by installing Aclima sensors in 21 of their office buildings to check air quality.

Google has also equipped their camera cars with these sensors called “Project Air View” (1).  In Denver area, three Aclima sensor-enhanced Google cars, conducted in collaboration with the EPA and NASA, collect data aimed to bring air pollution measurement down to street level, so people can view air conditions at a specific address and time of day.  Fast forward to today, Google has been building a map of air quality not just in different cities, or different neighborhoods, but on the “hyper-local” level of individual blocks or streets.

The data is gathered and then sent to the Google Cloud where it analyzed and integrated into an increasingly giant and detailed map.  The huge potential benefits has already been highlighted in a study, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, involving Google’s air quality data from Oakland.

The study combined the street-level data with six years of electronic health records from more than 40,000 local residents.  It concluded that those who lived in areas with higher levels of air pollution were significantly more likely to suffer from heart disease.

World Crisis Of Air Pollution

Google continues to expand Project Air View, as 50 more Street View cars will be kitted out with Aclima’s air quality mapping platform this summer.  Now that’s taking those efforts to the next level.

Google is hopefull that other non-Google fleets of vehicles around the world to consider adopting the technology.  Of all the pollutants in the air are, ground level ozone and particle pollution pose the greatest threats to humans.  So, what are ground-level ozone and particle pollution?

Ground-Level Ozone 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

, quoting the American Lung Association.

The ozone layer found high in the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere, shields us from much of the sun’s ultraviolent radiation and is beneficial.  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.

These gases are created by a chemical reaction when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) mix in sunlight and they react and form ozone smog.  The largest contributors to NOx and VOC are the oil and gas industry, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents, according to the EPA.

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?

Heavy Unhealthy Street Level Ozone Pollution

Premature Death and Lower Birth Weight. Some research has suggested that while particulate matter in the air doesn’t contribute necessarily to preterm birth, it does impact babies’ birth weights.

In rapidly developing countries, such as China, the highest levels of air pollution may be of concern for both outcomes, concluded a 2014 study in Environmental Health Perspectives, reviewed by the NIH. Still, 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.

One study regarding children in Mexico City, the most populous city on Earth, has shown air pollution affects short-term memory and IQ, and may even change metabolites in the brain similar to people with Alzheimer’s disease.

California has major issues with air pollution, as the state is home to all of America’s top five most polluted metropolitan areas, with it’s over 18 million people and 6.4 million registered vehicles in just the Los Angeles area, according to the American Lung Association’s yearly study of the State Of the Air assessment.  Newer research, such as a NIH study, has confirmed that ozone increased the risk of premature death even when other pollutants also existed. Quoting the study:

We found that the mortality rate increases almost linearly as air pollution increases. Any level of air pollution, no matter how low, is harmful to human health.

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.

pollution related deaths worldwide

Immediate problems, according to the EPA, in addition to increased risk of premature death, include all the below breathing function symptoms:


    Heart and Cardiovascular Effects. Inhaling ozone may affect the heart as well as the lungs. A 2006 NIH 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.  The study concluded cardiovascular patients and those at high risk of cardiovascular disease should be educated about the risks for triggering of arrhythmias and other cardiac events by air pollution.

    These patients should monitor the local forecasted Air Quality Index and follow the recommendations to reduce exposures and limit activities.  A French study reviewed by the NIH, found that exposure to elevated ozone levels for one or two days increased the risk of long and short-term cardiovascular mortality through an increase in myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure in middle-aged adults without heart disease.

    Particle Pollution.

    air pollution power plant

    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.  An NIH study confirmed the association of particle pollutants and effects on human health.

    The effects of particle pollutions were confirmed as having a small but significant adverse effect on cardiovascular, respiratory, and to a lesser extent, cerebrovascular disease.

    The study said susceptible populations, such as the elderly or asthmatics, may benefit from limiting their outdoor activity during peak traffic periods or poor air quality days.  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 shorten your life or kill you.

    The difference in the size of the pollution particles make a big difference in how they affect us, according to this EPA report.  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.

    An NIH study of over 350,000 lung cancer patients in California between 1988 and 2011, were exposed to particle pollution had poorer survival rate.  The impact to human health are very similiar to the ones discussed above on ozone pollution, with one exception.

    primary air pollutants

    Mental Health Effects Of Particle Pollution

    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 already had a chronic disease such as asthma, COPD, or diabetes.

    In the National Social Life, Health and Living project, older adults also suffered more symptoms of depression and anxiety when particle pollution was higher, according to a NIH study.  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 in an “Air Now” publication, 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, according to the American Lung Association.  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.

    Industry Worldwide Pollution

    Bacteria, pollen, mold, and plant and animal debris, are also included as coarse particles. Populations subjected to long-term exposure to particle matter (PM) have a significantly higher cardiovascular incident and mortality rate found a 2012 Journal of Medical Toxicology mega-study reviewed by the NIH. Short-term acute exposures subtly increase the rate of cardiovascular events within days of a pollution spike.

    The data are not as strong for PM’s effects on cerebrovascular disease, though some data and similar mechanisms suggest a lesser result with smaller amplitude.

    Respiratory diseases are also exacerbated by exposure to PM. PM causes respiratory morbidity and mortality by creating oxidative stress and inflammation that leads to pulmonary anatomic and physiologic remodeling.  The literature shows PM causes worsening respiratory symptoms, more frequent medication use, decreased lung function, recurrent health care utilization, and increased mortality.

    PM exposure has been shown to have a small but significant adverse effect on cardiovascular, respiratory, and to a lesser extent, cerebrovascular disease.  By contrast, chemical processes in the atmospheres create most of the tiniest fine and ultra fine particles in the air, referred to as “aerosols”, and have a huge impact on our climate and our health, per NASA.

    Research such as this Journal Of Air and Waste Management Association study (Taylor & Francis) provides persuasive evidence that exposure to fine particulate air pollution has adverse effects on cardiopulmonary health.

    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.

    unhealthy fossil fuel emissions

    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 effecting our health, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    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 minimize this exposure.

    What You Can Do To Protect Yourself From Unhealthy Air  

    According to the American Lung Association, the following Solutions Of Air Pollution can be incorporated into your life to protect you against its harmful effects on health and well being:

    1. 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 we do, use a quality air quality pollution monitor, such as the Air Quality Pollution Monitor and Sensor.
    2. Avoid exercise outdoors when pollution level is high by checking the EPA Air Now air quality index in your locale.  On high pollution days, walk in shopping malls, or go to a gym.  Definitely restrict your children’s activities outdoors.
    3. 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, according to Mayo Clinic research.
    4. Practice using less energy in your home or switching to cleaner energy sources. Generating electricity and other sources of energy, creates air pollution.
      Forest Fire Particle Pollution Unhealthy

      By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage independence and save money, according to an EPA research.  As recommended by the EPA in this article “Air Cleaners and Air Filters In the Home”, 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.

    5. Walk, bike, or carpool to reduce emmissions.  Combining your chores or shopping in one trip, or taking public transportation, instead of your own personal automobile, as recommended by the EPA.
    6. Encourage your children’s school to reduce exposure to school bus emissions. Schools should not allow school buses to idle on the school premises, according to the EPA’s Clean School Bus National Idle Reduction Campaign.
    7. Don’t burn wood or trash, which are among the major sources of particle pollution, per this EPA article “Backyard Burning”.

      harmful acid rains
    8. 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, as this Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report advises.
    9. Don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public places smoke-free. The NIH confirmed the connection between poor air quality and smoking in Irish Pubs.
    10. Get involved and start checking out “fighting for air”, which has some more information on what you can do.
    11. As part of a Solutions In Air Pollution plan 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.  New research published in the journal of Environmental Pollution, concluded that in just one year, the presence of trees saved 850 lives and prevented 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms.

    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 (rains), which will be the subject of a future article.  Leave a comment below if you would like to be notified when the article is released.

    Breathe Easier But Not To Easy

    Concentrations of ozone in the air have decreased over large parts of the country in the past several decades, which is terrific news, because of government policies and new technologies which have reduced emissions of precursor gases that lead to ozone air pollution, but despite those improvements, the amount of ozone that plants are taking in has not followed the same trend, according to a just released January 2020 study from researchers at Florida State University.

    With decreasing ozone concentrations as part of , we’re moving in the right direction, but the benefits for crops and vegetation may not be apparent until the air quality improvements have persisted longer found the study.

    Nourish Your Body With Fresh Nutritious Foods To Fend Against Harmful Affects Of Air Pollution

    Eating the proper well-balanced fresh, organic non GMO, nutrient-dense foods will go a long way in keeping you physically and mentally healthy, by lowering your stress and building your resistance and immune system, making it possible to help fight off the harmful effects of air pollution.

    fresh nutritious fruits and veggies

    You will also benefit mentally, by not only reducing emotional stress levels, but also by 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 and variety that is most important to your health.  The cornerstone of a healthy diet pattern should be to replace unhealthy processed or refined foods, or precooked foods, high-sugar, processed meats, or high-sodium foods, and fried 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 we can’t stress this enough, as much as humanly possible, buy and eat fresh foods.

    By using the following simple tips, you can cut through all the confusion, and learn how to create and commit to a tasty, varied, and nutritious diet that’s good for your mind, as it is for strengthening your body.  Let’s look at the bare basics.

    • Lean Organic Meats.  Meats should be non-GMO, grass-fed finished beef and bison, free-range finished poultry chicken, turkey and duck, lamb, and pork, brown cage-free eggs, and dairy milk, cheese, and butter (A).  Any wild-game is great too.
    • Wild-Caught Fish and Seafood.  Fish should be cold-water (non farmed-raised) salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, sturgeon, shrimp, oysters, tuna, and many others (A).

      Healthy Nutrient-Dense Mediterranean Diet Ingredients
    • Fresh Certified Organic Fruits, Vegetables, Raw Nuts, and Edible Seeds.  Choose a wide range of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, especially berries, citrus, dark green leafy veggies, and bright colored fruits and veggies (A).
    • Fresh Whole Grains, High Fiber, Fermented Foods, Herbs, Spices, Oils, and Drinks.  Should be certified organic and GMO-free, and gluten-free complex carbs and whole-grains.  Use at all meals; natural fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, natural yogurt, fermented wine; fresh herbs and spices such as basil, oregano, rosemary, turmeric, and cilantro; monounsaturated plant oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil; antioxidant-rich dark chocolate; antioxidants drinks such as espresso, infused fruit water, and fruit smoothies (A).  Checkout this blueberry-Maca smoothie.
    • Alcohol-Beer or naturally fermented red wine is better for you, but any type is OK as long as it is used in moderation
    • Supplement With Natural Nutritious Whole-Food Maca.  The Maca should be certified organic Peruvian Maca from the high Andes Mountains of Peru.  Use once or twice a day and also use it in prepared uncooked foods and drinks such as cakes, cookies, granola bars, and smoothies (A).
    fresh, powder, capsule Maca root plant

    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 this opportunity now to read these article “Maca Powder Health Benefits” , and check this review WHAT IS IN MACA ROOT?. 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.

    (**) Check out the three top-rated Air Purifier Systems for your home environment .

      • What are your thoughts on the various Solutions Of Air Pollution provided?  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.

        (A)  Follow these links to more in depth information, more documented studies, and also purchase all of these incredibly healthy nutrient-dense foods.

        (1) Environmental Defense Fund Video