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How Poor Air Quality Affects Your Health

October 16, 2019
air pollution

It’s easy to take the air we breathe every day for granted. It’s all around us, invisible, but absolutely essential in keeping us alive.

Similar to the water we drink and the food we eat, the air we breathe can have a direct impact on our health. We often ignore the quality of these life-altering components until it’s too late, but there are many ways in which poor air quality can affect your health. Let’s take a look at what these effects can be and why you should try to improve the air quality in your home since it’s the place we tend to spend most of our time these days.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is defined as the presence of harmful substances in the atmosphere that could harm people, other living creatures, and the planet. Some pollutants of concern include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur oxides. Luckily, air quality in the United States is steadily improving thanks to the Clean Air Act of 1963. But according to the EPA, air pollution levels are still at a place that could negatively impact people’s health and the environment.

The variables that contribute to air pollution are complex. They include man-made pollutants as well as contamination from wildfires. It’s important to support movements and legislation that can help improve air pollution, but those efforts and changes won’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s equally important to understand what air pollution can do to your body and how you can limit your exposure.

How Does Air Pollution Affect Health?

Air pollution is linked to a variety of health problems including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Unhealthy air can put stress on your lungs by limiting capacity and reducing the amount of oxygen entering your body. This can lead to diseases such as asthma as well as more serious ailments such as cancer.

Children and elderly individuals are at a higher risk given their intolerance to harsh pollutants, but everyone should be vigilant about protecting their wellness. Those with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease and emphysema, for example, should be especially aware of their surroundings given their vulnerabilities. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.2 million deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease are due to air pollution every year.

The direct impact of air pollution on human health alone is concerning, leading to a host of ailments that can be attributed to pollutants, but it can also have lingering effects on others. Poor air quality can affect women who are pregnant, leading to low birth weight, premature birth, or issues with neurodevelopment. It can also exacerbate symptoms for those with diabetes.

How Can We Reduce Air Pollution?

Reducing air pollution in your area may be a daunting task. It will take a combination of efforts on an executive and individual level. Some things you can do to reduce the air pollutants you personally create are driving less, burn less wood, and reduce gas-powered equipment use. Beyond that, you can encourage your local government to move away from hazardous energy practices and transition to green energy.

How You Can Improve Air Quality in Your Home Today

Unfortunately, changes your region makes today likely won’t take effect for years to come. It takes time for air pollution to dissipate. But improving the air quality within your home is obviously a much simpler challenge.

1. Clean Your Home: One straightforward way to improve the air quality within your home is to keep it clean. Dusting and sanitizing surfaces in your home can remove particles and impurities.

2. Have Real House Plants: Keeping house plants in your home can help purify the air you breathe and work as a filtration system.

3. Change Your Air Filter Regularly: Changing the air filters in your home is also a perfect way to improve the air quality in your home! When you switch out your air filter, irritants in the air will be captured immediately. Air passes through to remove particles such as dust, hair, pet fur, and, of course, air pollutants. Failing to switch out your filters can result in lower air quality and issues with your HVAC system.

We recommend you switch out your air filters at least every 90 days, of course, this is dependent upon your air filter’s MERVrating. Shop our selection to find one that suits the needs of your home.

Air pollution is considered to be one of the greatest threats to human health these days, so we all need to be aware of our surroundings. Air quality won’t improve overnight, so being mindful of your own personal health and how you can improve the air you breathe every day could go a long way in reducing any symptoms of poor air quality and helping you lead a long healthy life.

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