How Does Air Pollution Affect My Health?
March 19, 2020
Pollution is a hot topic that is increasingly becoming a global concern. In 2019, the World Health Organization considered air pollution the “greatest environmental risk to human health”.1 Air pollution contributes to 7 million premature deaths each year and numerous other health complications related to the respiratory and circulatory systems. Where does all this pollution come from and how can we protect our bodies against its damaging effects? We will discuss these questions as well as look at some ways to help minimize our exposure to airborne pollution.
Where does it come from?
Pollution comes from various sources both outside and inside our homes. Many common sources of outdoor pollution include cars, factories, recreational vehicles, farming chemicals, and deforestation. Natural events such as forest fires and volcanoes also contribute to air pollution in the air outside.2 We are even exposed to harmful air pollution in our homes. In fact, more than 3 million deaths a year can be attributed to poor air quality inside our homes.3 Things such as wood burning stoves or fireplaces, kerosene lamps, smoking, and household cleaning chemicals all contribute to poor indoor air quality.
All these different contributors release a variety of pollutants into the air we breathe. Some of these pollutants include dangerous gases like nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone. Some of these gases combine with small molecules in the air to form particulate matter.4 Particle matter (PM), especially PM2.5, is one class of pollutants that is particularly harmful due to its small size.
PM2.5 refers to a ridiculously small solid or liquid particle found in the air we breathe that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers. To illustrate just how small 2.5 micrometers is, a human hair is around 20 times bigger in diameter than even the largest PM2.5 particle! These tiny particles are so small that they can get deep into our lungs and even into the blood stream, causing issues with conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues.5 A study published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association even suggests that exposure to these harmful pollutants can affect our cardiovascular health, eventually leading to more serious health problems later on in life.
PM2.5 comes from many of the sources mentioned earlier such as motor vehicles, factories, and forest fires, among others. The effects of these pollutants on the air quality can easily be seen in many urban areas around the world, shown below as a hazy mist often referred to as smog.
How can we protect our bodies from pollution?
One way to help fight off the damaging effects of oxidative stress is through diet and supplementation. When we increase our intake of antioxidants, by eating more fruits and vegetables, supplementation, or both, we help support our body’s natural ability to minimize the damage caused by oxidative pollutants. Nu Skin has several Pharmanex products that help with overall antioxidant protection and cellular purification to give us some extra protection daily. These include LifePak®, ageLOC® YOUTH, Tegreen 97®, and ageLOC® R2 Night to name a few.
What can we do to minimize our exposure to pollution?
Together, with protecting our bodies through diet and supplementation, there are a few things we can do to limit our exposure to air borne pollution.
- Limit the amount of time spent outside when the air quality is poor. More specifically, limit the amount of physical exertion on days with higher PM2.5 levels, because doing more strenuous activities requires deeper and more frequent breathing.8
- If the air quality is bad outside, replace going for a run outside with doing some yoga inside or at a local gym.
- Limit the amount of wood burning inside the house, including fireplace, wood burning stoves etc.
- Make sure there is adequate ventilation when working with cleaning products, paints, and other household chemicals.
- Use an indoor air filter to help clean the inside air.
Implementing some of these simple lifestyle changes can help limit your exposure to air pollution and help protect your body against some of its damaging effects. In addition, be sure to check out our 5 Skin Care Tips for Glowing Skin to help maintain the healthy look of your skin.
Photo by Ella Olsson
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash