How do you clean your lungs from air pollution?

In this blog post, we will discuss “How do you clean your lungs from air pollution?” Firstly, this blog will share the basics of air pollution. Then, the blog will outline the necessity of the lungs in your body and the people whose lungs are sensitive to poor air quality. In addition, the article will emphasize the requirement of cleansing the lungs. In the end, the blog will describe safer solutions to clean your lungs from poor air quality.

How do you clean your lungs from air pollution?

Air pollution has created a threat to human health. The toxic contaminants in the atmosphere primarily affect the lungs of the respiratory system. Lungs are essential for the proper functioning of the body.

To protect the lungs from the ill effects of air pollution, it is necessary to take some precautionary steps, such as wearing a mask and checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) when you go out. At the same time, it is also necessary to clean your lungs to help them function optimally. The main steps to clean your lungs are as follows:

  • Better chances in lifestyle
  • Exercise
  • Hygienic conditions indoors

Let’s see the basics of air pollution.

What is air pollution?

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is known as air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. 

Therefore, striving towards minimising air pollution can also help to improve climate change mitigation efforts. In addition, reducing emissions will enhance the quality of air.

Importance of lungs in your life

Lungs are two sponge-like organs located on either side, and it is in the thoracic cavity of the chest. They are a significant part of the respiratory system of your body. Do you know that your lungs function similar to sponges? The main job of those lungs is to absorb or take in or inhale all the fresh air and then to take out or exhale all the waste gases. The fresh air taken in is then used by other body organs for proper functioning. Thus, I also like to call them our very own trees of the body.

So speaking in a medical language, 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.

Whose lungs are vulnerable to air pollution?

Airborne pollutants can irritate your airways and respiratory system to cause various respiratory diseases. The airborne pollutants which can cause your lungs trouble are as follows:

  • Ground-level ozone
  • Particulate Matter
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Allergens
  • Irritants

As per the British Lung Foundation, air pollution can affect everyone’s lungs, but it can worsen the health of those who already live with existing lung conditions; it can intensify the symptoms such as asthma attacks or COPD. Other than this, other people whose lungs are vulnerable to air pollution are as follows:

Women

Scientists have warned that pregnant women smoking cigarettes caused a potential threat to the fetus development; the smoke can cause alterations in the molecules. In addition, tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy causes interruptions in the fetus’s lung development. Researchers further analyzed that children at early stages and later teens fell for asthma or experienced asthmatic problems.

Another research by Vanderbilt University and John Hopkins found that women were two times weaker lungs than men. This trend seems to continue till women reach menopause. They found that testosterone or male hormone cells stopped the swelling linked to asthma symptoms and hindered lung mucus production.

Children

British Lung Foundation further said that extended exposure to air pollution could profoundly affect children’s lungs. For example, research conducted in California discovered that children living in highly polluted areas had a weaker immune system, resulting in asthmatic symptoms. In addition, some of the studies pointed out that sources such as vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) from the combustion of fossil fuels were responsible for weakening the immune system. Thus, such weakening of the immune system directly corresponded to asthma generation among kids and adults.

Older Adults

Older adults aged above 65 years are more susceptible to air pollution. This is because of their weak immune system to fight any diseases related to respiration and other organs. The American Lung Association has also found out that senior citizens with existing medical issues such as diabetes, asthma, or hypertension are more likely to get lung conditions. In addition, some medical researchers and doctors have noted that senior citizens living in highly polluted cities have more threat of lung cancer.

Another study by Simoni M. et al. discovered that poor indoor air quality could also lead to improper lung efficiencies among senior citizens than the younger counterparts. But, again, this is because the elders spend more time at home than the others.

Labours

Mathew Neidell of Columbia University examined the connection between labours and air pollution. He observed that workers working in mining and smelting areas, constructional sectors, automobile sectors, and industries have more impaired lung functions. He further suggested that improving the air quality regulations can improve work productivity and boost the economic sector.

People of Colour

Many epidemiologists have observed that the effects of air pollution don’t equally affect a region’s demography. For example, financially backwards people can get the heat of air pollution and selected racial and ethnic groups. The American Lung Association researched such visible differences and observed that some people of a racial or ethnic group have some distinct points for their lung conditions.

The latest assessment conducted by the EPA about particulate exposure revealed that non-white populations were more affected than the others. The most vulnerable people to the particulate pollution in the United States were the blacks. Asthma and the Allergy Foundation of America noted that black Americans are five times more at risk than white Americans to visit the emergency department due to asthma.

Why is it essential to cleanse your lungs?

Overall, medical research advises that brief and prolonged exposure to elevated levels of air pollution can cause detrimental effects on the lungs. For example, much evidence has been observed that prolonged exposure to air pollution may lead to lung cancer and asthma. In addition, various kinds of pollutants such as pollen, chemicals and second-hand smoke can get captivated in the air and enter the lungs.

But do you know that our lungs have a unique superpower of self-cleansing? Yes, you read right; lungs are self-cleaning organs. However, some of the practices and techniques can aid them to function optimally.

Lung cleaning practice might help individuals having pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, a heavy smoker can also get benefited by cleaning the lungs.

Below, I mention safer ways to cleanse your lungs from air pollution.

Solutions to Clean Your Lungs from Air Pollution

Physical Exercise

Fitness experts have stated that regular exercise improves your physical health and helps to keep your mind energized the whole day. In addition, medical studies suggest that it is crucial to take at least thirty minutes of the day to yourself and exercise as it will help your body’s vital organs- heart, brain and lungs. Moreover, it will decrease the risk of lung cancer, stroke and other heart diseases.

Physical exercise can also help increase breathing efficiency, which means it can improve lung functionality. One of the significant factors of exercise is that it makes the muscles work harder. This, in turn, increases the breathing rate and leads to a good supply of oxygen to the muscles. In addition, it improves circulation and leads to the effective removal of carbon dioxide.

Overall, it improves the immunity power of your body and increases the lung capacity to breathe effectively. There are many types of exercises which you can adapt. Exercises such as Yogasanas, swimming, running, skipping, gym workouts or just dancing all the way to make your lungs happy. Some of the medical evidence has also observed that cardiovascular exercises, which make your heart beat faster, can help your lungs work efficiently.

However, if people with medical conditions should seek the help of medical professionals before starting any new workout regime, a more intense workout is probably not advisable for such people. Still, they can regularly exercise in low intensity. You should also not exercise outdoors when the ambient air quality is worst. It would be best if you exercise indoors at such times.

Breathing Exercise

Do you know that most people in the world don’t breathe properly? However, correct breathing techniques can keep air pollution at bay illnesses. Pranayama is a form of yoga asana which helps to improve breathing methods and lung functionality.

Some of the pranayama types that help you fight air pollution are Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Chandra Nadi, Surya Nadi and Bhastrika. It is strongly recommended to learn this art of breath from a well-certified yoga trainer. Make sure you use yoga mats while practising any form of yoga.

You can also increase your lung muscles by simply taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 10. Then, slowly breathe out the air. If you can keep your breath for a longer time, you have good lung health.

Another benefit of breathing exercise is that it can help correct the lungs functionality of people who smoke a lot or have been past chain smokers. It can also help people to heal their lungs from chronic lung diseases.

Moreover, there are many tools available to rectify your breathing ability. One such tool is a spirometer. This device is primarily used after surgery to help the patients recover. However, just like pranayama, as mentioned above, there are other forms of exercises that don’t require any devices. Medical professionals suggest that techniques such as pursed-lip breathing and belly breathing can also help increase the lungs’ capacity. Belly breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing.

It is also advisable for a smoker or person having a history of lung damage to consult a doctor to ask whether there is any need for a special programme for support. 

Laugh all the way

They say laughter is the best medicine. It’s true in every sense. Laughing not only helps you to release stress but also increases your lungs capacity. Many studies suggest that when you laugh, you throw out all the stale, impure air, and in return, more oxygen can get entered into the lungs.

The scientific explanation behind this is that this action expands alveoli in your lungs when you laugh. Alveoli are nothing but tiny air sacks, and they are almost 300 to 500 million of them. When these little sacks are expanded, the exchange of oxygen is more extensive, and thus the lungs get the optimal supply of oxygen. Moreover, laughing also makes the lung muscles stronger. So make sure you have a company of people having a good sense of humour or just simply watch all comedy series to have a hearty laugh.

Good Diet

Always go for a well-balanced diet to remain fit and strong. Consistent eating of junk and fast food will increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. In addition, such people are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution. Instead, add more fresh veggies and fruits to your diet.

Studies also show that you should eat Vitamin-D rich foods to improve your lung health. A recent study suggests that healthy vitamin D levels reduced asthma attacks in the patients. The best sources of vitamin D are usually discovered in animal products, such as follows:

However, vegetarian people; don’t get disheartened. There are vegetarian options that provide vitamin D. These products are wild Mushrooms and cheese such as Fontina, Monterey and Cheddar Cheese. You can also get food products fortified with vitamin D. The fortified products are as follows:

Another great source of vitamin D is sunshine. National Institute of Health (NIH) noted that you should be exposed to sunlight for 5 to 30 minutes twice a week. Therefore, I would recommend you experience sunrise and take all the sunrays during the sunrise to avoid overexposure to the sun rays. Moreover, you can also rely on supplements of vitamin D.

Along with foods with vitamin D, you can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help cleanse your lungs effectively. Anti-inflammatory foods which I recommend are:

Immunity booster drinks

You can do your immunity booster drinks by using readily available items in your kitchen. Immunity booster drinks help to cleanse your lungs. Some of the DIY immunity booster drinks are as follows:

  • Take a glass of warm white milk. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Also, add two strands of saffron to it. Drink it at night before sleeping. You will get good sleep and be relieved from chest congestion.
  • Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. This would clear up your sinuses.
  • Buy an excellent green tea. First, prepare green tea by following the packet instructions. Then, have it whenever you feel irritation in your throat.
  • Take some crushed 1 or 2 peppercorns, a half-inch of a blade of lemongrass and 1 inch of grated ginger and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add everything in one glass of boiling water and reduce it to half a glass. Drink two tablespoons of this spice-infused warm water every after three hours. Adding honey is optional.
  • You can also drink warm water and add honey if you want. Honey helps to relieve throat irritation.

Steam Therapy

Steam therapy is a process in which you need to inhale steam or water vapours to get relief of the congestion and help the lungs drain mucus. People with sinusitis issues can feel difficulty breathing and congestion in the respiratory tract during cold and dry air. Such weather can dry out the mucous membranes present in the airways. This restricts the blood flow. 

The steam results in warmth and moisture in the air, improving breathing quality. In addition, it helps to loosen mucus inside the airways and lungs. This technique will give temporary relief, yet it is effective when your nose is stuffed.

You can simply take a broad vessel and fill it with water. Then, keep it on the gas stove with a closed lid. Let it boil. Then turn off the gas and place it gently beside the stove. Take a towel and cover your face and the container. Quickly take out the lid and inhale the water vapours. You will feel relieved. If you find this difficult to do, steamers are available in the market.

Air Purifiers

If you are using an artificial source of heating and cooling your house, I suggest you use high-quality filters and clean them at least twice a year. You can also replace them as per the machine guidelines. Besides, I would tell you to use air purifiers to maintain healthy air. Air purifiers can quickly reduce the dust pollution present in the house. Thus, air purifiers also help your lungs to remain clean.

Generally, the best kind of air purifiers in the market always have HEPA filters as their features. HEPA means High-Efficiency Particulate Air. Excellent quality of HEPA filters can eliminate around 99.97% of airborne particles, and it monitors and decreases the dust in your home. Besides, it would be best to use air purifiers with ionizers on/off capabilities.

Below, I am providing you with the recommended list of air purifiers.

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier●    99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured.
AIRMEGA 400S●    Reduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns.●    Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.●    Washable and permanent pre-filters are available
Blueair Pure 121●    Includes 3-part filtration system.●     Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.●    An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.

Check the health of house filters

It is also necessary to change all the filters in your home and clean them frequently. You can find such vents in bathrooms or air conditioning or heating vents. You need to replace furnace filters after every six months generally.

Avoid Synthetic scents

Synthetic scents released from paraffin candles or incense stick removes many toxic airborne pollutants like volatile organic compounds, dioxins, fluorons, etc. Thus, this affects the lungs health. Hence, it would be best to choose candles made from natural wax with naturally extracted scents or electric diffusers using essential oils. These aromas can kill bacteria and reduce airborne pollutants, cleansing your lungs. 

No smoking policy

Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. I strongly recommend of stop smoking indoors and outdoors too. Active and passive smoking directly exposes harmful pollutants to your body.

This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. Besides, cigarette butts can trigger particulate pollution. Moreover, smoke associated with tobacco and other smoking goods produces innumerable cancer-causing substances which are not suitable for human health of all ages- right from womb to older adults. The pollution created from tobacco smoking can congest your lungs. The best way is to stop smoking and avoid going to smoking zones to help clean the lungs.

Spend more time with the nature

Going to nature trails and hiking boosts your mood and helps to get plenty of fresh air. This supply of fresh, clean air helps expand the lungs and help to keep them functioning correctly. Make sure you check the air quality standards before you go out.

Take care of indoor air pollution

There’s a simple yet powerful saying- ‘cleanliness starts at home.’ Reducing indoor air pollution, the ones created due to indoor activities, can significantly improve ambient air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.8 million deaths happen every year due to household exposure to smoke from improper cookstoves and fuels. In addition, indoor air pollution is produced due to the combustion of fossil fuels. All this is not good for the lungs health.

You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. In addition, I would strongly recommend carpeting a minimum floor area.

You can use safer products such as baking soda instead of harsh chemicals to clean the surfaces. You can prefer choosing more hair-friendly products to clean indoors. You can select water-based products or have a low presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You can also paint your home walls with a brush rather than a sprayer. In addition, you can store solvents in air-tight containers so that VOCs don’t escape in the air. For lawn mowing, you can use push or electric lawnmowers.

Home accessories like carpets attract many allergens and pollens. These pollutants get stuck to the rug and degrade indoor air quality. You can vacuum these carpets and furniture such as sofas at least twice a week. All these efforts will indirectly help to clean the lungs effectively.

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

How do we prevent air pollution?

How do you remove dust from the air?

How do you clean the air in your bedroom?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed “How do you clean your lungs from air pollution?” Firstly, this blog shared the basics of air pollution. Then, the blog outlined the necessity of the lungs in your body and the people whose lungs are sensitive to poor air quality. In addition, the article emphasized the requirement of cleansing the lungs. In the end, the blog described safer solutions to clean your lungs from poor air quality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How do you clean your lungs from air pollution?

How does air pollution affect lung capacity?

 Air pollution can worsen lung function in all types of people—one with existing medical conditions and others having average lung efficiency (healthy lungs). Frequent exposure to pollution can develop coughing, wheezing, irritation and stress on the cardiovascular system. It also puts you at risk of lung cancer, stroke and, in severe cases, premature death. In some cases, long-term exposure to air pollution can raise the risk of asthma.

Can harmful air quality cause lung inflammation?

Indeed, yes- bad air quality leads to lung inflammation. It also alters lung functions. To start with, you can experience breathlessness and fatigue in your daily activities. There are also chances of developing bronchitis in the later stages of life.

How does air pollution affect lung development?

Air pollution can be dangerous for the foetus too. Its exposure can cause a hindrance in the expected growth of lung function in the womb. Thus, you can notice children and teens experiencing asthma attacks. This is mainly due to compromised development and strength of lungs due to poor quality. 

Which of the pollutants can damage the lungs?

The pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) can primarily damage your lungs. Particulate matters are microscopic and fine and ultrafine particles that can cause irritation and injure the airways. Nitrogen dioxide also irritates the airways and can be responsible for the aggravation of asthma or COPD. Ground-level ozone affects the functions of the lungs.

High tropospheric or ground-level ozone concentrations are dangerous for children more than adults.

What is the best drink to flush your lungs?

Some of the detox drinks to improve lung immunity and overall health in the winter season are as follows:

  • Honey and hot water
  • Cinnamon water
  • Green tea
  • Ginger and turmeric-infused in warm water
  • ABC smoothie (made up of apple, beetroot and carrot)
  • Green tea
  • Turmeric milk

The ingredients mentioned above have anti-inflammatory properties.

How can I test my lung capacity at home?

There are various solutions to test lung capacity at home. Some of the techniques are:

  • Peak flow meter device
  • Spirometry
  • Breathing trainers
  • Lung trainers
  • Breathing balloon technology
  • Breathing exercise

References

Brusie, C., 2020. 8 ways to clean your lungs (and breathe easier). Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/ways-to-cleanse-your-lungs#risks-and-warnings  

Cohen, M., Lung Detox: Does it really work? WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/features/lung-detox-facts  

Eske, J., 2019. 7 natural ways to cleanse your lungs. Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324483#ways-to-clear-the-lungs  

Petre, A., 2020. 6 good sources of vitamin D for Vegetarians. Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-foods-for-vegetarians  

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