Rush hour traffic and emissions from vehicles, pollution from factories, deforestation, and pollution from natural events… the list goes on. The air quality around us is getting worse.
According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report, 133.9 million Americans live in areas where air quality is poor. That’s reportedly 125 million more people compared to the official 2017 report.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also report 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air.
And poor air quality has been shown to kill 7 million people every year.
But is outdoor air pollution the only thing we need to worry about? What about “sick building syndrome” and the quality of air inside our homes and offices?
We’re going to discuss how air pollution affects our physical health, take a look at the worst polluted cities in the US, look at sick building syndrome, and see what we can do to help improve our air quality.
HOW AIR POLLUTION AFFECTS PHYSICAL HEALTH
The air we breathe has a direct effect on our physical health- there’s no doubt about it. So much so it’s reported that “one third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution. This is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco, and much higher than, say, the effects of eating too much salt.”
How else does poor air quality affect us? A popular Harvard Six Cities Study published in 1993 indicates that in addition to the link between air pollution and heart attacks and lung diseases, poor air quality has even been associated with other health conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even poor skin health.
RANKING AIR QUALITY
So which states in the US are the worst, and which are the best? Based on ozone pollution, the American Lung Association reveals the top 20 most polluted cities:
#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
#2: Bakersfield, CA
#3: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
#4: Fresno-Madera, CA
#5: Sacramento-Roseville, CA
#6: San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
#7: Modesto-Merced, CA
#8: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
#9: Redding-Red Bluff, CA
#10: New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA
#11: Houston-The Woodlands, TX
#12: Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ
#13: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
#14: Denver-Aurora, CO
#15: El Centro, CA
#16: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK
#17: Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA
#18: Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT
#19: Fort Collins, CO
#20: Hartford-West Hartford, CT
(Is your city listed above? If so, leave a comment below and let us know)
WHAT IS INDOOR POLLUTION / SICK BUILDING SYNDROME?
Step outside during rush hour or walk around downtown while their is heavy traffic and you’ll sometimes even be able to see the air pollution, let alone smell it.
But is outdoor air pollution the only thing to worry about? Unfortunately, no. Why is that?
Outdoor air pollution can definitely affect the quality of air inside our homes.
(Image courtesy of World Health Organization)
There is a medical condition known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) in which “people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feeling unwell for no apparent reasons.”
Medical authorities have indicated some things that may cause or influence SBS, in addition to psychological factors (work stress, dissatisfaction, poor communication) and poor lighting, chemical contaminants from outside that enter into your home or workplace can also play a role: “Contaminants from outside like pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust, plumbing vents, and building exhausts can enter the building through poorly located air intake vents, windows, and other openings.”
S0, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
It’s important to try and limit the amount of polluted air you are breathing as well as be conscientious of your impact on the environment.
Fortunately, there are some things you can start doing today to improve the quality of air you are breathing in and be more environmentally friendly. Check out these suggestions below:
Carpool: It may seem like something small, but carpooling when you’re able to, or taking public transportation once in a while, is a great way to help protect the environment and limit the amount of pollution you’re contributing into the air.
Take breaks: Don’t stay cooped up in the office all day. Get up and take breaks during work. Go for a walk around the building, get some sunlight on your face, and get out of the office each day. Besides, taking a break a couple times a day can also help you unwind a bit.
Crack a window/door open: If possible, crack open a window or a door to help with ventilation, so you can get some fresh air flowing through. Just make sure that the air you’re letting into your house/office isn’t bad!
Get an air purifier: Look into getting some type of air purifier for your home or office.
Clean Up: Cleaning up your house or office can help eliminate dust and mold, improving the air quality in your area. One way to do this is vacuum regularly.
Avoid hanging out in traffic: I know, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. Try and limit the amount of time you spend in traffic and also walking around in busy, high-traffic areas.
Support Environmentally-Friendly Companies: One big way you can help improve our impact on the environment is by supporting businesses and companies that are environmentally friendly. (Lakanto harvests monk fruit for its products and uses a zero-emissions facility during the process!)
WRAPPING IT UP
Air pollution and poor air quality can have terrible effects on our physical health. 7 million people a year die from air pollution. 21% percent of these deaths are due to pneumonia, 20% from stroke, and 34% from heart disease.
This air pollution isn’t just an outdoor problem either. It can also be a factor in causing Sick Building Syndrome. There are several things you can do to help improve the quality of air you are breathing in while you are at work or at home.
As air pollution continues to become more and more of a problem, there are things that we can do to actively reduce the amount of emissions and pollution we put into the air. We can do our part to be more environmentally friendly.
How are you going to improve the air quality, so you can support your physical and emotional well-being? We want to hear how you’re going to take action. Comment below and let us know.