How can I improve the quality of the air I breathe?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
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.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

More About this Book

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...

Continue Learning about Air Quality

Protecting Your Health From Air Pollution
Protecting Your Health From Air Pollution
By 2010, the Clean Air Act of 1970 called for the U.S. to reduce total emissions of six principal air pollutants by more than 41 percent. Today the En...
Read More
What are some harmful air pollutants?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
The outdoor air pollutants of greatest concern to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are ...
More Answers
What is particulate matter?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Particulate matter differs from ozone, carbon monoxide and other pollutants in that the term doe...
More Answers
7 Ways to Improve Your Air Quality
7 Ways to Improve Your Air Quality

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.