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 , 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 , 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

    Open your home to the outside world as frequently as you can, since the inside of a home generally has three to four times the pollutants and particles that are most dangerous to us. If you don't air it out, you increase the chance that these pollutants will build up.

    Indoor air quality has plummeted because our homes are more airtight and we're using many more products to freshen the air, sanitize the home, and treat fabrics. And remember that your favorite "clean" smell is often caused by chemicals that are present to mask the noxious odor of other chemicals. Plus, 15 percent of us are allergic to the common fragrances.



    To compound the problem, we're spending more time indoors. So make sure to open your windows as often as possible and bring fresh air in (even once a week in the heat of summer or cold of winter).

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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Young children and stay-at-home mothers are often at greatest risk for the dangerous effects of air pollution if the places where they live are filled with outdoor or indoor pollutants. These children and moms don't escape to the safety of their workplace every day.
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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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    A , Administration, answered

    Many office and factory workers experience headaches, unusual fatigue, itching or burning eyes, skin irritation, and nasal congestion, a dry or irritated throat, and nausea because of the air quality.

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    Thanks to recent technology, the EPA and the National Weather Service have developed downloadable apps for smartphones that allow you to do just that. The AIRNOW app will let you check levels of pollutants and ozone by zip code. It now tracks more than 400 cities across the nation. The UV Index app offers ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels by entering your zip code as well. Having this information can be especially helpful to people who struggle with lung disease, parents who want to be cautious as far as safety outdoors, and for seniors who may be more sensitive to these variables. You might also motivate your teen to be more health conscious if you can impress him with an app!!
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    In chili recipes and golf swings, little changes can make a big difference. The same holds true for managing your air quality. Since you can control (at least partly) what goes in and out of your mouth and nose, you have some say about the quality of air waiting to enter your system.

    Sure, living in today's society means that we'll be exposed to some toxic substances as pollution, carbon monoxide, and some morning-drive DJs. But you can take steps to avoid being exposed to many pollutants.

    Here are some tips, ranging from easy to not so easy:
    • Don't store any toxin-containing substances within your home.

    • Keep plants in your home. Simply, plants improve air quality because they produce oxygen, increase the oxygen in the room, and remove pollutants from the air.

    • Keep your windows open at times to let in fresh air. The better sealed a house is, the more you lock in toxins emitted from newer construction materials.

    • Keep your windows closed when on the freeways in large cities (or take the side streets). Did you know that driving for one hour on a Los Angeles freeway exposes you to the same amount of carbon monoxide as the average tunnel that's not well ventilated?

    • Clean your air ducts every three years.

    • Make sure your home doesn't harbor radon, asbestos, or mold. You should test for all three before buying a house. But if you didn't do it beforehand, test for them now.

    • Consider changing jobs. If you can avoid jobs where you exposed to pollutants and toxins, it can have a RealAge effect of making you up to 2.8 years younger. That's because avoiding pollution at work decreases arterial hardening and decreases all diseases related to arterial aging, like infections of the lung, asthma, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.

    • Consider changing cities. If you're itching to move, head to one of U.S. cities that has very low levels of air pollution, as ranked by the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report. The report ranks cities on both ozone and particle pollution. The smallest pollutants get the furthest into your lungs, which can have a detrimental effect on your immune system, as well as increase the rate of inflammation in your lungs, arteries, and entire cardiovascular system.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered

    Smog is a chemical mixture of ozone, particles of dust, soot, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and even lead. When your skin absorbs these pollutants your whole body can be affected negatively.

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    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.