According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is one of the top threats to human health worldwide. In fact, the WHO attributes about 7 million deaths per year to the microscopic pollutants in the air— too small for us to see, but large enough to infiltrate our circulatory and respiratory systems and cause significant damage.
Both indoor and outdoor air pollution can be harmful. Fortunately, there are things we can do to reduce our exposure to each of these.
Minimizing Exposure to Indoor Air Pollution
- If you’re doing any activity that can generate fumes or pollutants (such as painting, welding, sanding, paint stripping, or using a gas stove), make sure you’re doing it in a well-ventilated area— or even outside, if you can. To increase ventilation, you can open windows and doors and run a window or attic fan.
- Don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors. Secondhand tobacco smoke is responsible for many serious health conditions, including lung cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, and severe asthma attacks. Opening a window will not make it any safer.
- Reduce fireplace use when possible. Wood burning fireplaces generate much more pollution than gas fireplaces.
Minimizing Exposure to Outdoor Air Pollution
- Get into the habit of checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) each day. You can easily view this from any weather app on your phone. On days when the AQI is high, you should avoid exercising or spending a lot of time outdoors.
- You should also avoid exercising outdoors near any high-traffic areas, regardless of the AQI that day. Car emissions can increase the amount of pollutants in the air locally, and exercising makes it more likely that you’ll breathe the pollutants in.
Perhaps most importantly, you can reduce your personal risk for experiencing the health effects of air pollution by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing any chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, COPD, and heart disease. The Wellness & Stress Clinic is always here to help with this. To make an appointment, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433. As always, stay healthy and stay safe!
—The Wellness & Stress Clinic Team