Are your lungs content with what you inhale?

This blog post will answer the question, “Are your lungs content with what you inhale?” and cover topics like do you know what we breathe and the contaminants responsible for compromising lungs’ health. The blog will also discuss recent air pollution statistics in the U.K. In the end, the blog post will share the effect of poor air quality on our lungs and simple ways to keep our lungs healthy.

Are your lungs content with what you inhale?

Well, your lungs are not content with what you inhale. As a result, our lungs are inhaling poor air quality. Lungs are part of the respiratory system of our body. They function pretty resemble two sponges, each on either side, which is in the thoracic cavity of the chest. There is a reason why lungs are also known as trees of a human body system.

These sponge-like muscles are used to breathe air for respiration and other metabolic activities of the body. Once inhaled through the nose or mouth, the diaphragm gets expanded to gather all the air needed, then it gets relaxed during exhalation of air. But, unfortunately, we inhale some unwanted agents too.

Do you know what we breathe?

 We tend to breathe more varied elements than oxygen while inhaling the air, all thanks to ever-growing air pollution. First, the mucus present in our mouth and nose is warm and moistens the inhaled air. Then, it traps foreign particles such as dust and dirt.

Generally, our body’s natural defence system sneezes off or coughs out these unwanted alien particles. However, some types of air pollutants or foreign matters do not get filtered by our mucus. It is because they are fine and ultrafine in nature.

The air we breathe consists of biological components such as bacteria and pollen and other chemical components such as heavy metals. Breathing such contaminants can cause detrimental effects on our bodies.

Let’s discuss significant pollutants which are unhealthy for our lungs.

Which of the contaminants are primarily keeping our lung’s health at stake?

Two primary air pollutants affect the health of the lungs. Those are ground-level ozone smog and soot.

Ground-level ozone smog

Ground-level ozone smog is formed when Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and noxious (NOx) gases are combined under the presence of sunlight. This smog is prevalent in high-level temperatures with no winds, and ozone levels increase in the evenings and minimum in the sunrise. The natural ozone in the atmospheric layer is beneficial for survival on the earth. However, artificial ground-level ozone is much more lethal.

VOCs are produced by the combustion of toxic chemicals, which are later vapourised and form gas. NOx or noxious gases are formed when oxygen is added with nitrogen during the combustion process under high temperatures. Ground-level ozone smog is formed from combustion activities, vehicular activities and natural events such as wildfires.  

Soot

The other type of air pollutant which does not get filtered through our nose and mouth is known as soot. It is also known as particulate matter and is measured in micron per metre cube. These particles are even tiny than the diameter of a hair strand or a sea sand particle.

These notorious tiny matters are present in liquid, gas or air droplets. Soot formation occurs due to anthropogenic activities like coal mining, power plants and natural phenomena such as volcanic ash from the eruption.

The soot is detected in the air during the formation of ground-level ozone. The conditions favourable for soot formation are dry and clear, and it is hazy in appearance.

These chemical and biological agents are so minute that, when inhaled, they can blend into your bloodstream and they can circulate with your oxygen.

Let’s look up how these pollutants affect our lungs

How do these contaminants affect our lungs?

As mentioned earlier, lungs are a prominent part of the human body system, and all other organs are dependent on them. As a result, there should be proper equilibrium between all the systems for normal functioning.

Long-term as well as short-term exposure to polluted air comes with hazardous after effects. Short-term exposure to poor air quality can cause more risk to human lives. Inhalation of unhealthy air can lead to premature deaths. It can also decrease lung functionality in both adults and children. As a result, children can become vulnerable to asthma attacks.

Long-term exposure can also pose detrimental effects. It can impact the nervous system of the body. Long-term exposure to poor air quality can lower human reproductivity functions and can even harm your developmental stages.

Lastly, long term and short term exposures to such air can degrade the respiratory system and cardiovascular system.

Now, we will have a look at statistics of air pollution in the U.K.

Asthma U.K. and British Lung Foundation recently conducted these air pollution statistics. 

·        Officials have estimated that air pollution in the U.K. has caused around 36,000 early deaths so far. These premature deaths are majorly caused due to particulate matter or soot and nitrogen dioxide.  

·        Thirty-six thousand premature deaths are equivalent to an average across the U.K. population. These statistics indicate the health impact of air pollution. There is complexity in its after-effects. There is a prediction that air pollution can worsen existing illnesses.

·        Lung and heart diseases and stroke have caused these recorded premature deaths.

·        Air pollution in the U.K. affects people having existing respiratory and heart ailments. Researchers in the U.K. have made analysis that existing medical conditions were more vulnerable to air pollution.

Now, let’s look forward to how to make our lungs strong to battle air pollution.

How to Keep your lungs healthy?

·        Quit smoking! Be it electric vape or cigar, and you have just been given exclusive access to pollutants in your body. Our aim is not to maintain our lungs’ appearance as black beauty!

·        Keep a tab on indoor air pollution. Due to household activities, particulate matters, VOCs exist inside too. Use air purifiers to keep the indoor air clean and fresh. Also, check on Radon levels in the basement level as high radon levels are emitted from the soil.

·        Watch out for outdoor air pollution. Even if it looks weird and out of fashion, always wear a good mask in polluted areas. Always check the Air Quality Index (AQI) for more information on air quality and then venture out.

·        It is best to avoid polluted regions as you may get vulnerable to infections and compromise your immunity.

·        Boost your immunity! Eat healthily and don’t avoid exercising.

·        Always eat anti-inflammatory foods such as green tea, turmeric and berries. Anti-inflammatory foods help to build the lungs stronger.

·        Maintain hygiene standards for your house. Try to clean dust and dirt on any open spaces frequently. This will help you to avoid dust allergies. Maintain personal hygiene too. Cut off nails short to avoid an accumulation of dirt and dust.

·        Practice yoga. It is a therapeutic activity and helps to maintain good mental health. Yoga asanas also teach us the art of proper breathing. Pranayama or breathing exercises can help to exhale all the impurities from the lungs.

·        Don’t like yoga? No problem. Just enjoy any form of exercise to keep your respiratory system healthy.

·        Steam therapy is a good idea to cleanse your nasal system. It will improve your breathing if you are feeling congestion in your chest.

·        Another simple method of clearing chest congestion is to make DIY immunity booster drinks. Just add turmeric and two strands of saffron in your hot milk and drink it the night before sleeping. Turmeric has antiseptic properties. This drink will not only aid you in sound sleep but will also give relief to your lungs.

There are various instruments and techniques to determine your lungs’ capacity. Find out more on this blog post- “What are effective ways to test your lung capacity?”

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

How to improve the quality of air in the office?

What are effective ways to test your lung capacity?

Does Air Quality Affect Breathing?

Conclusion

This blog post addressed the question, “Are your lungs content with what you inhale?” We understood that lungs are constant victims of unhealthy air. The article also outlined the two nasty contaminants causing more danger to our health. Additionally, the blog post highlighted the ill effects of air pollution on the respiratory system and other human body systems. The blog also discussed recent air pollution statistics in the U.K. In the end, the article focussed on some ways of making lungs stronger. Please feel free to comment on the content.

Frequently asked questions (FAQS): Are your lungs content with what you inhale?

Which type of pollutant can irritate the lungs?

Nitrogen dioxide or NO2 pollutants can irritate the lungs and cause asthma. The other types of pollutants which can affect the lungs are ground-level ozone smog and soot or particulate matter.

Can air quality affect breathing?

Yes, poor air quality can affect breathing and can aggravate asthma, COPD, bronchitis and other lung diseases.

Does air pollution cause respiratory illness?

Yes, constant exposure to air pollution causes severe respiratory illnesses such as COPD, asthma, lung cancer and so on.

How do you clean your lungs from air pollution?

Some of the ways of cleaning your lungs are as follows:

·        Steam therapy.

·        Hot milk with added turmeric to it.

·        Draining mucus from lungs and nose.

·        Physical Exercise

·        Breathing exercise

·        Personal hygiene

·        Regular lung check-ups

What are the symptoms of bad air quality in the home?

Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, dizziness and fatigue are the symptoms of bad air quality in-home.

How can you improve air quality in the home?

Regular dusting and cleaning of the house, minimizing the use of perfumes and room fresheners, good air purifiers and proper ventilation can improve the air quality in-home.

Which of the organs are most affected by air pollution?

The lungs and heart are the most affected organs by air pollution. Air pollution causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Do lungs clean themselves of dust?

Yes, lungs do clean dust particles by themselves.

How does your body try to keep your lungs healthy?

Our body tries to keep the lungs healthy with the help of mucus. Mucus is a thick liquid that is produced in the walls of small airways. This keeps your lungs clean and well lubricated. 

References

British Lung Foundation. 2020. What are the effects of air pollution on your lungs? – British Lung Foundation. [online] Available at https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/air-pollution/effects

Lung.org. 2021. Particle Pollution. [online] Available at https://www.lung.org/clean-air/outdoors/what-makes-air-unhealthy/particle-pollution

Lung.org. 2021. Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy. [online] Available at https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/protecting-your-lungs

Medicalnewstoday.com. 2021. 7 natural ways to cleanse your lungs. [online] Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324483#outlook

Respiratory Health Association. 2021. Understanding Air Pollution – Respiratory Health Association. [online] Available at https://resphealth.org/clean-air/understanding-air-pollution/

The lung association. 2016. How Your Lungs Work. [online] Available at https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/lung-info/how-your-lungs-work

U.S. EPA. Air Quality Criteria for Particulate Matter, October 2004.

U.S. EPA. Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-08/139F, 2009. Available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=216546.

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