How Much Does the Air Quality Affect Our Health?

Health is one of the most important things in everyone’s life (some would even say that it’s the most important thing) and your health should be on the very top of your priority list. Sadly, as important as health is, it’s also very delicate and fragile, and it can be affected by even the most delicate changes in our lives: the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, the amount of sugar and additives in our food, and the condition of our psyche too. Few people are aware of the quality of the air they breathe, but here’s how it can affect you.

Health effects of bad air

We breathe air to live, and when the air quality is bad, we are risking our health. When the air you breathe is polluted, you’re at higher risk of respiratory diseases and asthma, or even cancer. Children are especially affected by the bad air because their immune systems aren’t as developed as those of grown people. Bad air can damage our lungs as well as our endocrine and reproductive systems, and people who live in cities where pollution levels are higher often find themselves coughing and wheezing.

Short- and long-term effects

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the most common pollutants, such as nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide, can cause eye irritation and cause airways to become inflamed, but that there is also great damage done to the respiratory tract. When you live with an irritated respiratory tract, you cough and secrete more mucus, which further leads to long-term infections. If your immune system is weak and you have asthma, you’re even more prone to these damages. Over longer periods of time, being exposed to poor air quality can result in breathing problems and reduced lung function.

Avoid being exposed to unhealthy air

While you can’t change the quality of the air in your area single-handedly, you can take simple steps which will reduce your exposure to unhealthy air. First things first – find out whether AQI (air quality index) levels in your area are a concern. If pollutant levels are high, you can protect your health by prolonged exertion to better air, or by intense outdoor activities. You can go outside and spend a few hours doing simple activities that will make you breathe a bit harder (going for a walk in a nearby park or cycling in the countryside). You can also do an intense outdoor activity that will make you breathe hard like jogging instead of walking. Of course, when you notice that the air is unhealthy, you can limit your time doing these activities thus protecting your health further.

Indoor air quality

You might think that, in your home, you’re safe from bad air, but that doesn’t have to be the case. The air quality inside your home can be even worse than it is outside, especially after you’ve painted or removed your floor. Paints and adhesives used in these processes are bad for your health and longer exposure can lead to complications. You might notice that your eyes, nose, as well as throat have been irritated and that you have headaches followed by fatigue. What is worse, bad air can aggravate the effects of asthma in children.

Improve air quality

While it might not be possible for your family to move to a new place where the air isn’t as polluted, you can change the quality of the air in your own home. By opening your windows and airing your home every morning, you make sure that the ‘bad’ air you’ve been breathing in all night gets out and that there’s plenty of fresh air inside. You might not be too eager to do this in winter, but it’s important for your family’s health. Keeping plants is helpful as long as you don’t overwater them, and if you’re sensitive to certain allergens, look for the best air purifier for allergies. Also, making your home a non-smoking zone will ensure that you and your family breathe healthy air.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to change the quality of the air in the city where you live or the place where you work single-handedly, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. Just as you go out of your way to ensure that the air in your home is safe, you should change your habits and try to reduce your carbon footprint. This way, you will make a positive change in the world and reduce the amount of pollution in the world, even if only slightly.