Let’s Be Clear. Air Pollution kills
Believe it or not, air pollution is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide. The stuff in the air we breathe is responsible for pneumonia, other lethal respiratory conditions, and heart disease. This has been confirmed in multiple academic studies. Furthermore, while air pollution may have a localized source, it is not a localized problem. If you live a hundred miles outside Los Angeles, you may not be able to see all those cars spewing toxic compounds into the air as they progress slowly down the freeway. But, due to natural air flow they will affect you nonetheless.
Many think they can avoid the issue of air pollution by staying indoors. It is a very pervasive opinion, and some have even coined themselves the “indoor generation”. Alas, there is no escaping air pollution. Air conditioning systems have a 30% fresh air replacement rate. This means that at any time nearly a third of the air in your home is being exchanged with the air outside your home. So, whatever is outside will soon be inside. That is part of the reason for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s revelation that indoor air quality is actually worse than outdoor air quality! So, let’s examine the specific health risks air pollution poses to you and the one thing you must do about it.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution almost doubles the risk of childhood pneumonia. This is probably shocking to many, it rarely gets any press. But, this has actually been known for quite some time. Mark Loeb, M.D of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario went a step further and actually determined the specific air pollutants responsible for this tragedy. In his paper for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, he announced that Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter are what is causing the problem. The study further identified the source of the pollution, an industrial zone several miles from the city center where steel was produced. One plant was sufficient to raise childhood pneumonia rates in a city with an area of nearly 500 square miles. This is an even bigger problem in the developing world. Research has shown that pneumonia caused by dirty air leads to 712,000 premature deaths in Africa. They even put a price tag on the cost to treat those who do survive, and it’s a half trillion dollars!
Pneumonia is not the only serious respiratory problem caused by air pollution. There are others, and they are serious. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a recurring condition that makes it difficult to breathe. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The journal Nature released a study in 2017 that documents how Particulate Matter leads to the development of COPD, and exacerbates symptoms in those who developed the condition from other sources. Lung Cancer has also been linked to air pollution. The World Health Organization has attributed 17% of lung cancer deaths to exposure to carcinogens in the air. These include (but are not limited to) volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter. Common sources include auto exhaust and industrial activity. The VOCs that the National Institute of Health most commonly associates with lung cancer are called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. They are very difficult to break down because of their natural stability. So, when some air pollution generating activity puts them into the air, they persist there.
Air pollution has also been linked to heart disease and stroke. Ischemia is a condition where the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart is reduced. The World Health Organization is once again our data source, and the news is scary. Approximately 15% of Ischemia related deaths, which in absolute terms is over a million souls per year, is caused by air pollution. The blockage associated with the condition is caused by concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate matter which are inhaled. Stroke is caused when blood flow to the brain is limited. A full one fourth of all stroke related deaths are caused by exposure to the same air pollutants as Ischemia.
That is 1.4 million people every single year! Industrial activity and cars are, of course, common sources of the air pollution that causes these conditions. But, another major contributor are cooking fires. A large quotient of the world’s population relies on fuel ignited fires to cook their meals. The sources of fuel vary. But this is a very common source of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. If you should find yourself thinking this a problem strictly for the developing world, then think about the charcoal grill on your deck or over at the neighbors.
So, now the big question. What can be done? The world’s population grows every year. This means that industry grows to meet the demand for more goods, and more people behind the wheel of a car. Necessarily this means more air pollution. Politicians everywhere on earth have waxed poetic about curbing the problem, but their own statistical agencies link a growing number of deaths every year to it. Sadly the problem isn’t going away any time soon. Hopefully this will remedy itself with time. It is truly one of the great problems of the century. But what can one person do?
Well, let’s start from the premise that arose at the beginning of this piece; people are spending more time indoors. Up to 90% of their lives! That is where to start. Airocide has proposed seven steps to improving indoor air quality. Follow all of them. But, the most important of these is to have a VOC Air Purifier capable of eliminating the pollutants listed here. VOC air purifiers remove the gasses that are most commonly found in an indoor environment. It must be effective in controlling nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter as well. Furthermore, the air purifier should be running continuously in the room where you spend most of your time indoors, which is almost always the bedroom. By taking these steps exposure to air pollution is minimized. By extension this minimizes the risks associated with air pollution.