Recent polling studies indicate that Americans think they recognize the dangers of air pollution and the techniques to mitigate them. They also tend to believe that the worst dangers are in the past thanks to increased awareness and increased environmental measures. What these beliefs reinforce is the fact that most Americans have a dangerously false sense of confidence when it comes to air pollution and the effect that it is having on their lives.
Air Pollution Is More Dangerous Now Than It Has Ever Been Before
How is that even possible when overall air pollution levels are down significantly? Yet asthma rates are up, so what gives? Well, there are a number of factors. More people expose themselves to air pollution more often and for longer periods than ever before. There’s also the matter of long-term exposure. We’re only beginning to understand how lethal it is, and there’s much evidence that the harm done yesterday makes you more susceptible today.
Indoor Air Pollution Is Worse and Far More Dangerous
For most people, it’s tough to wrap their head around this truth. After all, the widespread fallacy is that outdoor air is bad and that we’re safe indoors. But the truth is if the air outside your door is polluted, then so is the air on the other side of it. What compounds the issue is that our homes are sealed, so contamination and pollution levels build up over time. It may be tough to believe but polluted indoor air is much more lethal than polluted outdoor air.
Fossil Fuel Power Plants Produce Lethal Air Pollution
Most of us recognize that that coal-fired power plants and the like are harming our environment. But there’s not nearly enough attention on the damage that these plants are doing to our lungs and other aspects to our bodies, including our minds, directly. In fact, in its most recent published study, the American Lung Association asserted that if you remove all 440 coal-fired plants from the US, you would eradicate the air pollution problem overnight.
Smog Is A Killer
Dangerous ozone particles are the aspect of smog that makes it so lethal, and smog is the most prevalent form of air pollution in the US. We tend to have this image of large billowing clouds of blackness, but the most dangerous aspect of smog is that it’s usually invisible. It attacks the lung tissue by creating a chemical reaction, and sometimes that reaction changes the tissue fundamentally. This is why long-term exposure to smog is so hazardous.
Soot Is Much More Harmful Than You Believe
Soot is particulate matter, miniscule particles of liquid and solid matter suspended in the air that we breathe. These microscopic particles enter through our lungs and then make their way into our bloodstream where they cause real damage. In fact, the damage done by soot is extremely similar to the damage done by the poisons that enter the bloodstream by smoking tobacco. It can lead to heart attacks, strokes and a wide range of lung diseases.
Southern California Cities Have The Worst Air Pollution Levels
Sure, we associate LA with its infamous traffic pollution, but when we think California, particularly Southern California, we tend to associate it with a healthy lifestyle. The state even uses that perception in their marketing campaigns. But according to the American Lung Association, California disturbingly tops the air pollution lists, and according to the California Air Resources Board, air pollution accounted for 9,000 premature deaths last year alone.
Don’t assume that the air in your neighborhood is safe. Find out and take measures. More importantly, don’t assume that your indoor air is safe. Take steps to ensure that it is. Clean regularly, vacuum daily, wash bedding weekly, smoke outdoors, don’t use commercial air fresheners, watch for mold, dander, pollen and other contaminants. Provide proper ventilation indoors, use a dehumidifier and most importantly use an air purifier with HEPA filtration. A HEPA air purifier uses a highly specialized kind of air filter that removes nearly one-hundred percent of the airborne particulates we mentioned earlier. It also removes pollen, mold spores, dust mites and so forth. In fact, many asthma and allergy sufferers experience a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of symptoms after they begin to use a HEPA air purifier. The best thing about HEPA is that it’s extremely affordable and accessible.
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