In modern times the air pollution is increasing at an alarming rate. The exposure to high pollution levels have led to several health threats. Which in turn have increased the frequency of hospital admissions. So the question which arises here is that what are these pollutants and how do they impact our health?
So, in this article we will discuss the harmful pollutants that scare our lungs, what are the health impacts related to them, and what measures we can take to keep harmful pollutants at bay.
What air pollutants scare our lungs?
There are several air pollutants in the ambient air that can scare our lungs namely;
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
- Particulate matter 10
- Particulate matter 2.5
What are the sources and health impacts related to these pollutants?
Sulfur Dioxide is an irritant gas. If you happen to inhale this gas it can irritate your nose, throat and lungs.
Sources of Sulfur Dioxide
The most common sources includes;
- Coal fired power stations
- Oil refineries
- Coal burning
- Diesel vehicles
Health impacts of Sulfur Dioxide
If you are exposed to a high concentrations of SO2 then it can cause symptoms like;
- Shortness of breath
- People having existing lung conditions are more prone to its effects.
Nitrogen dioxide is a gas. When inhaled it can cause irritation in your throat and lungs.
Sources of Nitrogen Dioxide
The main sources of NO2 are:
- Vehicular traffic
- Coal powered stations
- Industrial emissions
- Health effects caused by NO2 includes:
- Shortness of breath
- It can worsen the condition of people with lung conditions.
Ozone is a pungent gas which is present in the stratosphere. It protects us from the effects of harmful UV rays. But when formed at ground level it causes several harmful effects. Ozone is the main component of photochemical smog.
Sources of Ozone
When the oxides of nitrogen and certain volatile organic compounds react with each other in the presence of sunlight, it gives rise to ground level ozone.
Health impacts of Ozone
- Exposure to this toxic gas can irritate your throat and lung linings.
- Causes difficulty in breathing
- The people at higher risk includes; children, elderly, and people with lung conditions.
CO is a colourless odourless and toxic gas.
Major sources of indoor carbon monoxide:
- leaking chimneys and furnaces,
- wood stoves, gas stoves,
- gasoline-powered equipment
- tobacco smoke
Health effects can vary depending upon the concentration. For example
- At low concentrations, it can cause fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease
- At moderate concentrations it can cause angina, impaired vision and reduced brain function.
- However at higher concentrations it can cause impaired vision and coordination, dizziness, confusion, nausea and fatal at high concentrations
The PM10 particles are defined as particles having the size range of either 10 or less than 10 microns. These particles are small enough to enter your throat as well as lungs.
Sources of PM10
Common sources include:
- Fire smoke
- Vehicular exhausts
- Industrial emissions
If exposed to high levels PM 10 can cause symptoms of:
- Runny nose
- Stinging eyes
It can cause the symptoms of chest tightness and breathing difficulty in people having lung and heart disease.
PM2.5 are the particles having the size of 2.5 microns or smaller. PM2.5 is very small in size. It is mainly found in smoke.
Sources of PM2.5
- Common sources includes:
- Smoke from fires
- Vehicular exhaust
- Industrial emissions
Health impacts of PM2.5
PM2.5 if inhaled in high quantities can cause:
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty in breathing
These particles are so tiny that they can penetrate deeper into your lungs and can even enter your bloodstream.
What can we do to protect ourselves from these harmful pollutants?
There are some measures you can adopt to reduce your exposure to these harmful pollutants :
Monitor air pollution levels
You can keep a check on the air quality index of your area to get insight about the pollution levels. There are certain websites designed for this purpose such as the Environmental Protection Agency. These sites can be accessed anytime of the day.
You can also get information from local radio, television, and newspapers. You can even contact local hospitals etc and can plan your outdoor schedule accordingly.
Avoid going out at peak hours
Avoid going outdoors during the peak hours of pollution. Air pollution levels are highest in the afternoon, so try not to go outside at that time. Doing so can increase the chance of getting exposed to high levels of pollution. Avoid outdoor exercising when the Air Quality Index is greater than 300.
Avoid high-pollution areas
Pollution levels are the highest near the roadways especially within 1/4 mile of a road. Highly congested urban areas and smoking areas should also be avoided.
The outdoor pollutants can also infiltrate through your house. Which affects the indoor air quality of your house. Other than that the indoor pollutants may also originate indoors.
According to the American Lung Association, the indoor air can also be unfit for you. The average time that we spend indoors is about 80-90% so you must ensure that the air quality is breathable.
But luckily you can keep a check on your indoor air quality levels by adopting certain measures:
By Installing an air purifier
Given below are the links of few air purifiers that will keep your house clean and safe:
Air purifier : GermGuardian Air Purifier
- Features: Germ guardian 5 in 1 air purifier is an electrostatic HEPA air filter and offers a removal efficiency of about 99.97% against particles as small as 0.3 microns.
- Efficiently removes harmful germs like viruses, odor causing bacteria, mold spores, mildew, and other allergens like; dust, pet hair, and other large particles; like PM10
- The efficient UV-C light kills airborne viruses such as influenza, staph and rhinovirus.
- The filter also removes the VOC concentration with the help of titanium dioxide.
- The activated charcoal filter is effective against cooking odor, tobacco smoke, fumes, pet odor etc.
- Offers quiet operation; with the Ultra-quiet sleep mode it operates on low sound levels to get you a good night’s sleep.
- GermGuardian Air Purifiers are ideal for medium to large rooms having an area of about 743 sq ft.
Air purifier: Instant Air Purifier
- Features: Instant air purifiers are proven to kill 99.9% of covid-19 virus, bacteria, mold, and other harmful viruses.
- With its Advanced 3-in-1filtration; HEPA-13, Activated Carbon, Antimicrobial coating and plasma ion technology it removes 99.97% of pollutants like particulate matter tobacco smoke, pet dander, certain odors and other impurities.
- Its advanced sensors offer a 24×7 air quality monitoring with auto fan speed adjust feature.
- It filters the air in an area of 126 sq ft 5x per hour
- With its whisper quiet night mode it offers lower noise for a sound sleep.
- The filters last upto 8 month, after that it needs to be replaced.
By installing an HVAC systems
The HVAC system works efficiently towards filtering airborne contaminants and also helps in continuous circulation of air.
Given below are the links of few HVAC systems that will keep your house clean and safe:
HVAC System: Honeywell F300E1019 Electronic Air Cleaner
- Features: This can be operated with gas, oil and AC systems.
- Efficiency for capturing particles is upto 98%.
- Has a very low pressure drop
HVAC System: DAIKIN Inverter Air Conditioner Heat Pump System
- Features: Daikin’s ductless technology offers greater energy
efficiency; cools and warms up the room fast.
- Smart inverter technology with integrated inverted variable speed compressor
- Provides continuous heating and cooling with minimum temperature fluctuations.
- Quiet operation; with indoor sound levels as low as 37 decibels.
Using fans for the improvement of air flow
If opening windows are not feasible consider using bathroom and stove exhaust fans. Try placing the fans close to an open window or a door. This ensures better air circulation and draws the air borne particles like viruses, bacteria and particulates out of your house.
Below are the best exhaust ventilation and for improving the air flow in your room:
- Features: Offers high airflow; draws out heat, moisture, odor, and dust etc.
- EC-motor with PWM-control increases and reduces energy consumption and noise levels (67dB)
- Blades are made of aluminum that are resistant to liquid and dust
- Features: Provides superior airflow; ideal for garages, gardens, attics, barns, greenhouses, basements etc.
- Easy installation consists of hard wire connection for wiring.
- Body made of galvanized steel frame, 3 aluminum shutter blades, fully enclosed ball bearing motor, self closing shutter system provides protection to fan when not in use
- It’s suitable for ventilating a building to the outside.
- Powerful & Efficient: 120 volts at 70W, 0.57 amps, with 1680rpm
Use of evaporative coolers
Evaporative coolers are also known as swamp coolers. They help in increasing the ventilation in the room and also cools down the indoor air. Evaporative coolers are ideal for dry climates. They require water to provide cooling and also enhances the relative humidity of the room.
Below are some links to the best evaporative coolers that offers better airflow for your room:
Evaporative cooler: Pro Breeze Evaporative Air Cooler
- Offers powerful cooling with its waterfall cooling technology that propels air through an ice cold honeycomb filter.
- A portable swamp cooler air conditioner ideal for room, home office or bedroom.
- This is a 3-in-1 appliance which can operate as an air cooler, a cooling fan and a humidifier.
- It runs at just 0.0065 kw/h, which is much more energy efficient than an air conditioner hence it is energy efficient & cost-effective
Evaporative cooler: Air Cooler Sunday Living
- This swamp cooler has a double layer water circulation system which purifies air and can also be used as a humidifier or a fan.
- Water tank has a large capacity with a visible water level window.
- This cooler does not have compressor and chemical refrigerants and hence it is environmental friendly
- Comes with a bladeless cooling solution
- Cost effective Compared with your costly AC
- Safer to use in the household that has children or pets.
Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.
So, in this article we discussed the harmful pollutants that scare our lungs, what are the health impacts related to them, and what measures we can take to keep harmful pollutants at bay.
We hope you found this article helpful.