Symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke

In this blog post, we will discuss “symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke”. Firstly, the blog post will briefly talk about air pollution. Then, this issue will outline the various sources of smoke and emphasize the symptoms of poor air quality due to it. Lastly, the article will recommend solutions to save you from smoke. 

Symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke

The symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke are as follows:

  • Physical Appearance of Air
  •  Effect on the human body
  • Food
  • Natural Indicators
  • Increase in infections and other airborne infections

Let’s go ahead and discuss in brief 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.

WHO has suggested some revised guidelines on 22 September 2021 to improve the overall air quality. This organisation has decided to implement permissible limits of the earlier significant pollutants.

These permissible limits of ambient air quality are as follows:

PollutantsHourly mean concentration (ug/m-3)Annual mean concentration (ug/m-3)
PM2.5155
PM104515
NO22510
SO240
CO4
O38 hour: 100Peak season: 60

What are the health effects of air pollution?

Environmental studies have proved that PM2.5 and PM10 have caused relevant harm to public health. Both pollutants can deeply penetrate inside your lungs. PM2.5 can enter your bloodstream, which results in various respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. It can also affect other organs. WHO has declared these two pollutants as carcinogenic elements.

The detailed adverse effects on human health are as follows:

  • Respiratory ailments: COPD, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, common cold and cough, throat infection, lung cancer, chest congestion, sinus congestion, etc. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Heart attack, cardiac arrest, chest pain, heart blockage, stroke, etc. 
  • Mental disorders: Anxiety, insomnia, depression, low productivity, irritation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, brain stroke, paralysis, etc.

The other effects of air pollution are low sperm counts, low reproductive ability, infertility and congenital infant disabilities.

What are the causes of air pollution?

There are two leading causes of air pollution- natural pollution and anthropogenic pollution. Here’s tabular information about it. This table will also show you a general comparison.

ParametersNatural PollutionAnthropogenic pollution
Definition Air pollution, which occurs due to natural phenomena, is called natural pollution.Air pollution, which arises due to human activities, is called anthropogenic/artificial pollution.
CausesTransportationCombustion of fossil fuel Cooking activitiesEnergy generation and consumptionAgriculture Improper Solid Waste ManagementIndustries and factoriesHousehold pollutionCelebrations Construction and demolitionVolcanic Eruption WildfireDust storms

What are the sources of air pollution?

The sources of air pollution are as follows:

● Mobile sources such as cars and buses and other different commutes

● Stationary sources such as oil refineries and factories

● Area sources such as agricultural areas and cities

● Line sources such as roadways and railways

What are the types of air pollution? 

There are two types of air pollution – ambient pollution and household pollution. The below represented tabular form will give you a general idea about these types.

ParametersAmbient PollutionHousehold Pollution
Definition Air pollution in the outside environment is called ambient pollution/outdoor pollution.Air pollution created inside any closed structure is called indoor pollution/household pollution.
CausesTransportationCombustion of fossil fuel Cooking activitiesEnergy generation and consumptionAgriculture Improper Solid Waste ManagementIndustries and factoriesHousehold pollutionCelebrations Construction and demolitionHousehold activities Perfumes and fresheners Cooking fuel/activitiesCigarette Radon Poor ventilation Uncleaned furniture Pets Asbestos

What is smoke?

Smoke consists of various tiny pollutants such as dust, dirt, particulate matter, carbon particles and various harmful gaseous contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ground-level ozone, etc. Natural as well as human-made (anthropogenic) pollution are responsible for smoke. Smoke is also made up of incomplete action of combustion.

 The sources of smoke are as follows:

Human-made pollution Natural pollution 
Transportation  Combustion of fossil fuel   Cooking activities Energy generation and consumptionAgriculture Improper Solid Waste Management  Industries and factories  Household pollutionCelebrationsConstruction and demolitionVolcanic Eruption  Wildfire Dust storms

How to determine poor air quality due to smoke?

Well, you can determine the air you breathe by observing factors around you. Let’s see what all those factors are:

Physical Appearance

You can get a burning smell when you are inhaling smoky air. You will also experience a haziness in the atmosphere, and as a result, it will affect the visibility range. These parameters change due to the presence of microscopic particles known as particulate matter (PM), which immediately affects your throat and eyes.

Effect on the human body

If you are living in a polluted region, you may experience too much hair fall. Smoke makes your hair appear dull and unhealthy. In addition, it impacts your scalp health. As you inhale smoke, the particulate matters dissolve in your bloodstream. This results in less oxygen supply to your scalp.

One of the most significant symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke is immediate irritation in your airway tract. As a result, you feel like sneezing, coughing and may experience wheezing. You can also feel an itchy sensation in the nose, throat and slight pain in the chest.

Smoke also pose a risk to eye health. When your eyes come in contact with dust, your eyes can become red and watery due to irritation.

Effect on Plants

If your garden plants are not growing well, they are at risk of poor air quality exposure. Smoke in the air overall affects plant growth. It also disturbs its photosynthesis ability. These particulates can clog stomatal pores. This prevents gas exchange during the photosynthesis process. A small study recently discovered that indoor plants produce fewer leaves when exposed to cigarettes for 30 minutes.

Leaves of your plants may turn yellow or discolouration and coated with dust if the air quality is poor. Additionally, you can see its leaves slightly in a downward direction, not rising in the order of the sky. As a result, you might feel as if they are dead. 

Food Quality

Less yielding of crops is another symptom of poor air quality. As mentioned earlier, smoke plays with plant and crop metabolism. This results in less availability of grains, veggies and fruits. The changed quality of farm products is also a sign of polluted smoky air. They can be less tasty and more petite in size. They can also have a faded colour appearance.

In terms of interference of pollution in the crops’ internal structure, these farm products may contain carcinogenic elements. 

Natural Indicators

A recent study conducted by environmentalists suggests that mushrooms are very sensitive to air pollution. They exposed oyster mushrooms to fire smoke caused by the burning of solid waste. This process was done to understand its effect on mushrooms’ cultivation and nutrition.

Researchers concluded that smoke damaged soft tissues of oyster mushrooms, which affected its total yield. In addition, the moisture content and carbohydrates were also reduced significantly.

Lichens have also shown sensitivity to poor air quality. Lichens are composed of fungus and algae. Lichens, when exposed to polluted air, can develop structural changes, decreased photosynthesis and bleaching.

Meteorological Conditions

Scientists have claimed that unhealthy air quality levels can decrease and increase rainfall depending on local environmental conditions. They have observed that regions polluted with smoke witness frequent, unseasonal and maximum-intensity rain.

The presence of smoke in the air during the winter season can cause a phenomenon known as smog. Such smog conditions hamper the visibility of clear blue skies. 

Increase in infections and other airborne diseases

Recent pandemic trends had observed a quick spread and rise in the infection rate when there was poor air quality.

Thus, if you suddenly see people sneezing or getting down with flu, then you are breathing the smoky air.

What can I do to protect myself from air pollution?

I will elaborate on some of the measures to protect yourself from air pollution.

Personal Hygiene

You can also fight the effects of air pollution by maintaining personal hygiene:

  • You can cut your nails short to avoid the accumulation of dirt. 
  • You can also practice mouth gargling after coming home to free your mouth from unwanted guests.
  • You can also brush twice a day to keep airborne infections at bay.
  • You can also take steam therapy at home to cleanse your lungs.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking provides the direct entry of harmful pollutants into your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. 

Physical Exercise 

Physical activities have many benefits to your body. It not only improves your stamina and immunity levels but also helps to increase your lung capacity. Yoga, sanas, swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking and dancing are some of the best forms of exercise to improve your health.

Breathing Exercise 

The majority of people in the world don’t breathe properly. However, correct breathing techniques can keep illnesses due to air pollution at bay. A 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. 

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, then you have good lungs health.

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. Also, you can consume less meat to minimise carbon footprints.

You can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help to 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 you will be relieved from chest congestion. 
  • Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. Your sinuses would be cleared up. 
  • Buy an excellent green tea. Prepare a green tea by following the packet instructions. 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.

Use Mask

Mask can prevent you from inhaling the polluted air. You would be able to work in contaminated areas without any fear of allergy infections and stress. 

Masks I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
BASE CAMP CROSSDUST MASKEAPI Filter Technology & Advanced NanotechnologyUser FriendlyMore Durable Six layers face maskFilter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown with Electrostatic Adsorption Performance, Activated carbon, Non-woven Polypropylene
NIOSH approved N95 maskFour layers mask Flexible nose pad, dual strapsDisposable maskEasy to breathe
BASE CAMP Reusable Cloth Face MaskThree layers mask; 100% cotton Skin-friendly and breathablePocket to add additional filterReusable Mask

How can I individually reduce air pollution?

You can always try your level best to minimise air pollution. The following are the methods to reduce air pollution at an individual level.

Plant Trees

Encourage tree plantation drives amongst the communities. You can be a green saviour of your region. Trees are the natural air purifiers of the environment, and it supplies us with clean air.

Municipal councils or the local authorities can develop urban forests to increase the green cover of the locality. They can also plan to create vertical green walls to improve oxygen levels of the region naturally. But don’t forget to plant only indigenous trees. 

Human/ religious celebrations in eco-friendly ways 

Nowadays, many couples celebrate gender (of their baby) revealing parties by bursting firecrackers. But, unfortunately, these firecrackers can transform into massive wildfires if they are burst near trees.

Thus, you can celebrate such celebrations by planting trees in your nearby barren land. Bursting firecrackers on any religious, festive or personal occasion are only going to harm your loved ones. 

You can also celebrate Christmas by not cutting Christmas Trees. Instead, you can buy artificial ones and use them in the coming years too.

Discourage Plastic

Single-use plastic has been one of the major concerns in the environment. Plastic pollution indirectly contributes to the degradation of air quality. Plastic, when burned, releases various toxic gases such as dioxins into the air.

Encourage alternative use of the plastic product. For example, you can wear a cloth bag for shopping. You can also carry your travel cutlery set to a restaurant. Additionally, you can take your water bottle instead of purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle every time.

Use of public transportation 

Increase the use of public transport to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. You can also try carpooling or the cab sharing option. Then, you can also use bicycles instead of scooters. Lastly, you can always opt for walking a shorter distance. 

Alternative use of fossil fuel

It would be best to try switching to other fuel alternatives. For example, don’t use wood for the fireplace. Instead, you can wear multiple layers of clothes for warmth. In this way, you can conserve energy. Additionally, you can also install solar panels on house roofs to convert solar energy into electricity. 

You can also buy electric and hybrid vehicles to minimise tailpipe emissions. Finally, propose or discuss a plan with your mayor or any relevant local authority to promote your region’s renewable energy sector.

Reduction of personal carbon footprints

You can also keep a check on your carbon footprints. For example, you can delete unwanted photos, videos or emails from clouds and email boxes as and when possible. Unfortunately, this unwanted stuff takes a lot of energy, which indirectly contributes to air pollution.

You can also switch off the lights and electrical appliances of the vacant rooms. Try buying local products instead of imported ones. Be vocal about them. You can also discover your own country rather than travelling to different ones.

Create Awareness

Air pollution is unpredictable; air pollution in your vicinity can affect people living in Asia and vice-a-versa. However, you can create public awareness about air pollution amongst your community by teaching and interacting with your kids about the importance of good air. 

Educate youth by telling them the ill effects of poor air quality. Then, let your country’s future know that they deserve a better place to live!

How can the local authorities improve the air quality of your region?

You can always observe the changes happening in your surrounding nature. If you experience bad air quality or any activities producing air pollution, you can always concern relevant local authorities or the mayor.

Here are some methods which local authorities can do.

Proper disposal of waste 

Improper solid waste management of an area is an invitation to many diseases and infections. In addition, burning solid waste in public can cause air pollution, although such practices are rare in the US. 

The wastes are mainly disposed of in the engineered landfills and recycled before final disposal to landfills and waste incinerators. 

In addition, waste incinerators help to convert waste into energy.

However, many researchers have claimed that gasification technology or waste-to-energy technology may release harmful gaseous contaminants. Thus, it is necessary that waste collectors rigorously segregate the waste before sending it to waste incinerators. 

The best solution is to minimise waste at a personal level. Statistically, 70% of the waste generated can be recycled effectively. Thus, strive to recycle your waste at a personal level as much as possible.

Reducing air pollution from agriculture

Stubble burning is still practised in some parts of the US. This event contributes to the degradation of air. Local authorities can help farmers convert this waste into cattle fodder or be transformed into pellets as fuel. In addition, farmers should stop the usage of harmful pesticides or fertilisers to decrease air pollution.

How can I reduce indoor air pollution?

Maintaining household or indoor hygiene

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. You can then vacuum your carpets and sofas at least twice a week. 

Make sure your doggies and cats are well-groomed. Use chimneys and exhaust fans in kitchens. You can also install an exhaust fan in washrooms. Always make sure you are keeping your house well ventilated. 

Keep doors and windows open when possible. Maintain the health of electric appliances such as heaters, humidifiers, AC, fans, air ducts and so on at regular intervals of the year. Avoid overuse of strong perfumes or strong scented candles indoors. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants do the same work as outdoor ones- they help to purify indoor air naturally. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.

The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows: 

Air purifiers

Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to the use of air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.

Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured. 
AIRMEGA 400SReduction 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 121Includes 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.

Humidifiers

The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps to keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.

Humidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4 litre of tank capacityAuto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settingsIt can be used in both seasons
MOVTIP HumidifierPortable Mini-humidifier500 ml capacity, still produces longer mistsEasy to operate
LEVOIT HumidifierIt can be used for both seasons6 litres of capacity Easy to clean and has a remote control

Dehumidifiers 

Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.

Dehumidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Pro Breeze DehumidifierCan extract 50 pints of moisture a dayEnergy-saving auto-off systemBuilt-in Humidity sensor
HOmeLabs DehumidifierEliminates moistness, odour controllerEasy to cleanRemovable water tank
TCL Portable Dehumidifier20 pints of moisture removed per dayIt can be operated at low temperatures tooEasy to maintain

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

Effects of poor air quality on the environment

Does poor air quality make you tired?

Does air pollution affect water?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed “symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke”. This article also briefly talked about air pollution. Then, this issue outlined the sources of smoke. In addition to it, this blog post emphasized symptoms of poor quality due to smoke in detail. In the end, this write-up showcased techniques to fight against smoke.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke.

How does smoke in the air affect you?

The fine particles in the smoke affect you the most. This is because these fine particles can penetrate deep inside your lungs. These microscopic particles can cause varied health problems such as burning eyes, running nose to aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases. In addition, prolonged exposure to smoke can cause premature death.

Why is fire smoke terrible for the environment?

The smoke created due to combustion activities pollute the air we breathe. Ash is responsible for soil and water pollution. Various outdoor burning activities can cause a wildfire.

Can smoke in the air make you sick?

Yes, smoke in the air can make you sick. Healthy as well as people with existing medical conditions are all at risk of smoke inhalation. The immediate effect of breathing smoke is coughing and trouble breathing.

Does smoky air make you feel tired?

Yes, smoky air can make you feel tired. High concentration of smoke results in coughing, burning sensation of eyes, runny nose, phlegm, etc. These health symptoms make you sluggish, have less memory strength and have decreased productivity levels.

How does wildfire affect air quality?

Wildfire affects climate at regional and international scales. This phenomenon releases tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide, black carbon, brown carbon, and ozone into the air.

What happens to the smoke in the atmosphere?

Most of the particles and gases in the smoke are water-soluble. These elements can be absorbed into the clouds. As a result, they are also absorbed by rain droplets. Generally, the smoke can linger in the atmosphere for up to two to three weeks.

References

airfuji.com. 2021. Poor Air Quality Symptoms That Will Make You Very Sick. [online] Available at https://airfuji.com/poor-air-quality-symptoms-that-will-make-you-sick/  

Eckert, T., 2020. Be Aware: Smoky Air Can Cause Symptoms Similar To COVID-19. [online] KLCC | NPR for Oregonians. Available at https://www.klcc.org/health-medicine/2020-09-08/be-aware-smoky-air-can-cause-symptoms-similar-to-covid-19  

Province of Manitoba – Manitoba Health and Seniors Care. 2021. Health Effects of Smoke Exposure due to Wildland Fires | Province of Manitoba. [online] Available at https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/smoke.html  

Uhs.berkeley.edu. 2021. Wildfire Smoke / Air Quality | University Health Services. [online] Available at https://uhs.berkeley.edu/health-topics/wildfire-smoke-air-quality

US EPA. 2021. How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health | US EPA. [online] Available at https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/how-smoke-fires-can-affect-your-health  

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Comment