We breathe more than 300 cubic feet of air every single day and usually don’t even give it a second thought – unless air quality plummets and begins to cause unpleasant symptoms!
Here in our part of California, there are 3 common culprits that are generally responsible for polluting our environment and decreasing air quality.
- Smoke from wildfires
- Vehicle emissions
- Industrial pollution
These pollutants release numerous gases and 4 of them are especially harmful
Smoke, exhaust fumes and industrial pollution contain four gases that are harmful at best and even deadly if they accumulate to high enough levels.
These gases are:
- Carbon Dioxide – Carbon dioxide is always present in the atmosphere, but it becomes dangerous when smoke and heavy pollution produce too much of it.
A large amount of carbon dioxide is toxic and it decreases the amount of breathable oxygen in the environment.
- Carbon Monoxide – Wood, fossil fuels and other organic matter release poisonous carbon monoxide as they burn.
This is one of the most dangerous gases in smoke and pollution, because it enters our cells and replaces life-sustaining oxygen.
- Nitrogen Oxides – Combustion of organic matter also produces nitrogen oxides that are not particularly threatening on their own.
They become dangerous, though, when they bond with other substances in the air and contribute to the production of harmful smog, acid rain and ground-level ozone.
- Ozone – Most ozone is located in the stratosphere where it gives us many benefits by filtering out harmful UV rays.
However, when nitrogen oxides and other pollutants form ozone at ground level, it is toxic to us, as well as to animals and sensitive vegetation.
Polluted air also contains a variety of irritating compounds
Smoke from wildfires and other environmental pollutants don’t just release harmful gases. They also contain a variety of microscopic compounds that act as irritants when we breathe them in.
The most common compounds found in polluted air are:
- Heavy Metals – Cadmium, lead and mercury generally enter the atmosphere by way of vehicle emissions and industrial pollution, but they can be present in smoke depending on what is burning.
- Volatile organic compounds – These organic compounds are formed by several gases that evaporate quickly. They give wood smoke its familiar smell and are not harmful in small amounts.
When they become concentrated, though, they irritate our bodies in a variety of ways.
- Tiny Particles of Matter – Smoky, polluted air always contains tiny particles of matter that end up entering our respiratory systems.
Most of these microscopic particles are organic, but a few, such as microplastics, are inorganic.
The gases and compounds in smoke and pollution harm our health
Pollution in the air around us enters our bodies as we breathe and it immediately begins to irritate our respiratory systems.
Many of the microscopic particles of matter in pollution remain in our lungs, but the remaining gases and compounds enter our bloodstream and begin to harm our health at a cellular level.
They can eventually trigger a variety of symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma attacks
- Irritation of the throat
- Irritated sinuses
- Nasal drainage
- Decreased immunity
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lack of energy
5 Ways to keep pollutants out of your indoor environments
It is essential to prevent smoke and pollution from coming into your home, workplace and vehicle, because this will keep you and those you love from breathing it in as much.
Here are 5 ways that you can keep smoke and pollution at bay:
- Stay informed – Staying abreast of the latest information about the air quality in your area is one of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself.
Here are some resources to help you do that:
Air Now – Type in your zip code and get air quality data for your specific area.
California Air Resources Board – This website provides a wealth of information about air quality all across California, as well as insights into what is being done to improve air quality.
Installing an air quality app on your phone can also be very useful. Two of the best apps are:
- Seal your house well – Close windows tightly and keep damp towels under outside doors. You should also seal chimneys and any vents that might allow smoke in from outside.
- Filter indoor air – This includes installing HVAC filters with a high minimum efficiency rating (MERV), routinely replacing the cabin filter in your vehicle and using high-quality air purifiers.
- Clean floors with a HEPA vacuum – HEPA vacuum cleaners, such as the Hoover Windtunnel, have high-efficiency filters capable of filtering out more than 99% of all particles, allergens and even smoke.
Cleaning floors routinely with a HEPA vacuum can help decrease the amount of pollution and microparticles that are present in an indoor environment.
- Dust lightly with a damp rag – Microparticles from pollution and ash from wildfires tend to settle on flat surfaces in homes and offices. Dusting occasionally with a damp rag will remove these small particles and keep them from being stirred up and re-entering the air.
5 Ways to boost your health as you face smoke and pollution
Dealing with ongoing wildfire smoke and pollution is stressful.
This chronic stress gradually wears away at our energy, immunity and general health, so it is essential that you put a priority on taking care of yourself and boosting your health as you work through these adverse circumstances.
Here are 5 ways that you can do this:
- Breathe through your nose – Our noses filter the air that we take in and remove much of the pollution that we are exposed to.
They also add moisture and nitric oxide to every breath. These two compounds work together to increase lung elasticity, immunity and oxygen uptake.
- Wear a mask when outdoors – Wear a mask whenever you go outside. The most efficient masks have activated carbon filters for cleaning the air that you breathe in, as well as exhalation valves that increase comfort.
- Detoxify with a cleanse – Our bodies work hard 24/7 to eliminate the toxins that we have been exposed to and when we are dealing with wildfire smoke or other pollutants, they have to work even harder.
You can ease your body’s workload while simultaneously increasing your detoxification by doing a cleanse. We have in-person cleanse classes, as well as online classes available. You can sign up for them here.
- Eat for nourishment – When under stress, we invariably reach for comfort foods instead of eating to nourish our bodies.
As you deal with an increase in air pollution, make it a point to eat foods that will give your body the proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibers that it needs to function efficiently and repair itself.
If you need fresh inspiration for healthy eating, check out our recipes and food tips.
- Take a vitamin, mineral and antioxidant infusion – Medical studies prove that infusions of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can boost immunity, increase energy and renew overall health during times of stress
We offer a variety of these infusions. If you want to schedule one or simply want to know more, give us a call at (925) 280-4442 or drop us a note firstname.lastname@example.org .
Now go take care of yourself and those that you love so that you can stay strong even when air quality decreases.
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