Air Quality

Air Quality

We hear about air quality from many sources, from the weather report to vacuum cleaner commercials. The air we breathe can carry many tiny particles that will affect your health, especially if you are an allergy sufferer. Common contaminants in the air include dust, pollen, and smoke. Air in well-insulated houses can concentrate not only these contaminants but fumes and vapors from household chemicals like chlorine bleach and cleaners. Getting enough fresh air where you live may be as simple as opening a window or as complex as filtering and ensuring proper humidity in an apartment or office HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system. Use of smoke removers and air filters (either electrostatic or HEPA) may improve indoor air quality.

Recently Answered

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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    Research done decades ago by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that certain house plants can actually "clean the air" of pollutants and dust. A growing amount of plant researchers are identifying various plants that will remove pollutants from your home or place of business. These plants are peace lily, English ivy, weeping fig, devil's ivy, flamingo flower and mother-in-laws tongue. It is estimated that the average size home will benefit from between 6-12 plants.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Home air filters sound like they'd be the best things for your lungs since snorkeling tubes. After all, when used and maintained properly, they can filter allergens out of the air.

    Unfortunately, many people don't see big benefits after bringing an air filter home. Why? The primary reason isn't a mechanical malfunction, but an owner malfunction. Most people don't service the air filters regularly, so they're not that effective. They don't clean or change components as the directions recommend. If you stick to regular maintenance, however, air filters can be useful for taking allergens out of the air.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Molds produce mycotoxins, which weaken or kill the things they live on or compete with. Short-term exposure can cause breathing problems, and the research indicates that long-term exposure may also be linked to cancer.
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    The percentage of oxygen is the same at sea level as it is at high altitudes, which is roughly 21 percent. However, because air molecules at high altitudes are more dispersed, each breath delivers less oxygen to the body. A breath at 12,000 feet (3,657.6 m), delivers 40 percent less oxygen to the body than it does at sea level. At 18,000, feet, a breath takes in 50 percent less oxygen. As a result of this difference, you should expect to feel short of breath during and shortly after physical activities, such as mountain climbing or biking,at higher altitudes.

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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    As one of only three ways the inside of your body interacts with the outside world (skin and intestines are the others), your lungs can be exposed to a great deal of nasty toxins.

    The outdoor pollutants that mostly affect your lung health appear to be ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead. Others include dioxins, asbestos, and particulate matter (those are the particles produced by the combustion of diesel, gasoline, and other fuels, and tobacco smoke).
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    A answered

    Give your walking workout more green by hiking trails or parks instead of asphalt and concrete. You'll do your heart a huge favor.

    Car pollution in high-traffic zones isn't just bad for your lungs. It can really test your heart too.

    In a study, men who previously had heart attacks (but had stable heart disease) exercised while being exposed for short periods to traffic-equivalent levels of diesel exhaust. The result? Reduced blood flow to their hearts. This is not a good thing for anyone, but especially worrisome for people with heart problems.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Air pollution caused by particulate matter so small that it can't be seen is what aggravates and leads to respiratory (and cardiovascular) problems—and even death. Particles from the polluted air that are too small to be filtered out by the cilia travel deep into the lungs. Though the immune system responds to those foreign particles, those particles do a number on immune function, allowing infections to occur and asthma to develop.

    One of the reasons we know this happens? Due to a labor dispute, the single largest pollution source in a Utah valley, an old integrated steel mill, operated intermittently. When the mill was operating, pollutants contributed to increased asthma and other severe respiratory problems, and increased deaths. When the mill stopped working, the number of problems and deaths dropped—and not by a little, but by more than 50 percent in a three-month period. And, of course, when the strike was settled and the pollution resumed, the respiratory illnesses and the deaths increased by over 50 percent.

    Many people are rats in someone else's experiment if they live close to a freeway, where small particles roam the air and increase lung problems.
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    A Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of
    Protect your health by following these tips:

    • From May to September, get your outdoor physical activity before noon or after 6:00 PM.

    • If you are physically active between noon and 6:00 PM, stay indoors or keep your physical activity light to moderate (walk instead of run).
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    If your throat and skin become dry in the winter months, having a humidifier may help that. But for many people, having a humidifier does more harm than good-because they get lazy about maintenance. Humidifiers must be cleaned regularly, or they'll form a cesspool of water that grows mold and fungi-and you'll end up breathing in that stuff.
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    The average adult, when resting, inhales and exhales about 7 or 8 liters of air per minute. That totals about 11,000 liters of air per day.

    Inhaled air is about 20-percent oxygen. Exhaled air is about 15-percent oxygen. Therefore, about 5-percent of breathed air is consumed in each breath. That air is converted to carbon dioxide. So, as far as how much air is actually used, human beings take in about 550 liters of pure oxygen per day.

    A person who is exercising uses a lot more oxygen than that. To determine how much air is moving through your lungs, exhale into a plastic bag of known volume. See how long it takes to fill the bag.