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This Month In Life
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    Certain colors are known to affect your feelings, mood, and actions. Interior decorators keep this in mind as they design spaces. Artists purposely choose colors to create a desired effect on the viewer. You can wield the power of color the next time you paint a room by choosing a color that encourages the mood you’re hoping for in that specific room. Read >>
  • A Breath of Fresh Air
    Sometimes you can smell it or even see it in the air. Depending on where you live, air pollution may be a normal part of your environment. Before you go outside, know what’s in your air and how to protect your family from the effects of pollution. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

A Breath of Fresh Air

What you should know about the dangers of air pollution.

​Sometimes you can smell it or even see it in the air. Depending on where you live, air pollution may be a normal part of your environment. Dirty air is the result of dust particles, gases, fumes, or smoke that are emitted into the atmosphere from energy use, factory productions, or natural events. High or prolonged exposure to such pollutants can be harmful to human health—regardless of whether you can feel the impact immediately.

​Before you go outside, know what’s in your air and how to protect your family from the effects of pollution.

​Causes of Air Pollution

​While not very common, air pollution can be the result of natural causes. Breathing in smoke from wildfires and volcanic eruptions, pollen, natural radioactivity, and organic compounds can all be harmful to your health. And while all of these occur in nature, they are still pollutants.

​More often, air pollution is caused by human activities. The smoke you see billowing from the chimneys of industries, refineries, and manufacturers is sometimes just steam. But other times, it’s soot. This gas or solid particulate matter may be made of dust, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, or other gases.

​When fossil fuels burn, they emit pollution into the air. Cars, trucks, airplanes, and trains burn fossil fuels that produce fumes and exhaust, which contain carbon monoxide, nitrogen, hydrocarbons, and other particulates. When exhaust reacts with heat and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, smog forms. If you’ve ever dealt with smog, you probably know that it is especially harmful to breathe.

​But wait—there’s more! The pesticides and fertilizers used on crops, the chemicals used to fumigate homes, and many of the products used to clean and build homes emit chemicals into the air that contribute to poor air quality. So if you think living in a spotless house or in the middle of farm country eliminates any potential air pollution, think again.

​Health Risks

​The air you breathe enters your lungs where it can enter your bloodstream. This means your lungs and heart are most at risk for the negative effects of air pollution. The damage air pollution can have on your health depends on the type, the level, and the length of exposure. While it is impossible to avoid all air pollution, someone who lives in the countryside has less exposure than someone who lives in a big city or who works in a factory operating heavy machinery.

​Short-term effects of air pollution may include irritation to your eyes, throat, or nose. Coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, and frequent respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia are possible. Individuals with asthma, allergies, and emphysema should be particularly careful, as air pollution can cause the symptoms of such conditions to worsen. 

​Chronic health risks of pollution may include respiratory diseases, damaged airways, reduced lung function, lung cancer, and heart disease. Liver and kidney damage are also possible. Especially hazardous pollutants can harm the endocrine, nervous, immune, and reproductive systems. 

​Protect Your Health

​Air pollution is bad for everyone, but children, the elderly, and those with preexisting lung or heart conditions are especially susceptible to its negative health effects. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help protect you and your family from the dangers.

​At rest, the average person exchanges 3,000 gallons of air each day. The more you breathe in, the more damage pollution can cause. For this reason, if you choose to exercise outdoors, stay away from roads with heavy traffic. 

​If you live in a big city, check the weather reports for pollution levels before spending prolonged time outside. When the air quality is poor, stay indoors with the windows closed. If you want to spend time outside, the air is generally cleanest during the morning. 

​Want to do more than just avoid air pollution? Do your part to help reduce air pollution. Ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation when possible. Reduce the amount you drive a car, and drive a car that gets good gas mileage. You’ll be healthier and will help others enjoy better health at the same time!