Tips to Stay Healthy in Polluted Air
By Chris Brown
Air pollution exposes people to particulate matter that includes black carbon, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and sulfur dioxide, which are known to cause a range of deadly diseases. This is extremely concerning considering that 9 out of 10 people are breathing unhealthy air worldwide according to the Environmental Defense Fund. A few tips can partly mitigate the effects of environmental pollution and help you lead a healthier life.
Health Impacts of Pollution
A major cause of pollutants is fossil fuel burning and transportation. The fine particles created from vehicles, especially black carbon and nitrogen oxides, lead to conditions causing an estimated 6 million premature deaths a year. These include:
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Impaired brain development in children
Tips for Reducing Pollution Risk
Due to career or life necessities, most people don't have the option of moving out of polluted environments. Cities, where pollution is highest, is the source of many jobs. The growing prevalence of remote work could allow some to avoid pollution's lung-invading particles. But for the rest of us, there are ways to lessen its health-related impacts.
- Track and adapt to daily air pollution levels - Air pollution levels fluctuate daily with changes in wind current, humidity, and temperature. Pollution levels can be found online and one can stay indoors on high level days. One study found that a closed windowed house lowered air exchange with the outdoors by 50 percent.
- Install an indoor air filter - Air filters remove particulates from the air to lower exposure. With about 90 percent of people's daily time spent indoors, this reduced time in a polluted environment can be impactful.
- Breathe through your nose - The nose acts as a filter between the outside world and your lungs. Although the nose doesn't completely filter pollution's small particles, any degree of filtration is preferable to none with mouth breathing.
- Take a pollution-free vacation - Give your lungs a break from polluted air and travel out of the city on a free weekend. It allows your body to naturally recover from particulate damage and provides the refreshing experience of clean air.
Life in Polluted Environments: Should You Exercise?
While exercising on a high pollutant day increases the ultrafine particle deposition in lungs (five times so with moderate exercise), a European risk assessment found that the cardiovascular benefits of exercise outweighed the risk of increased pollutant exposure. Therefore, unless pollution levels are extremely high (or you are at risk for respiratory diseases), exercise should not necessarily be deferred.
The Joint Chiropractic can't prevent pollution exposure, but it can help you to breathe better and relieve pain that may be preventing exercise. The Joint has convenient night and weekend hours and an affordable, insurance-free, rate. So don't hesitate to stop by one of The Joint's 500-plus locations with a walk-in session today.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.