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How Air Pollution Affects Your Body and What You Can Do About It

Posted By Gavin Wilson , Thursday, April 4, 2019

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is tasked with making sure that the amount of pollution released by factories, cars, and other industrial items is regulated, but they aren’t responsible for pollution within the home. Have you thought about how air pollution inside can affect you and your body? It can be just as much of a health hazard as what you breathe in while you’re outside, if not more, considering how much time you spend in your home.

One way you can reduce some of the pollutions in your home is by getting a humidifier. That may sound strange, but it’s true. Of course, picking the right one to get the benefits you need is essential in assuring that the air quality in your home is improved (more on this later). Take a look at how a humidifier can help you reduce pollution in your home and what features you need to consider to get the job done right.

Woman and man with cold and flu symptoms

Before installing a whole house humidifier, however, it is important to understand what causes air pollution and how it can affect your overall health. With this knowledge comes the understanding of why it is important not only for your long-term health but also for the environment, to improve overall air quality.

Effects of Air Pollution

When there are rampant pollutants in the air in your home, it can have significant effects on you and your body. Your health may decline, and you’ll probably feel symptoms of cold and flu. Why? Those pollutants are irritants, and even if you don’t have allergies—which significantly increase the symptoms you'll experience—you will sneeze, cough, and could end up congested due to your body’s production of excess mucus, which is used to trap those pollutants so they don’t enter your lungs.

While the most common effect of air pollution is respiratory-related; it can also have long-term negative effects on those with existing heart conditions or those with a history of heart-related health problems in their family. Cases have been reported that show a direct link between heart attacks, hypertension, and angina and air pollution. When exposed to high amounts of air pollution, strokes are also more common; especially in the elderly or those with existing health conditions. While the negative effects of air pollution on our physical health are significant on their own, recent studies are now also linking air pollution with poor mental health.

What Causes Air Pollution?

Fossil fuel example - gasoline

While people understand that air pollution refers to the release of pollutants and contaminants that have long-term and irreversible effects on the human body—and the planet—the exact factors that cause poor air quality are not always common knowledge. The top common causes of air pollution are as follows, but are not limited to:

  • The burning of fossil fuels—either in the heating of the home, gasoline for a motor vehicle or during operations of a production company.
  • Climate change—the warmer the temperature of the overall atmosphere, the more air pollution is created during increased smog production and increased ultraviolet radiation.
  • Climate change—the warmer the temperature, the more condensation forms in the atmosphere increasing mold production and pollen that is released into the fragile air system.
Global warming effect on the polar ice caps

How you can Help Reduce Air Pollution

The reduction of air pollution is not just the concern of production companies and factories but instead a universal concern in which each and every single person the planet can complete certain tasks to ensure their carbon footprint is reduced.

If you are wondering exactly how to reduce air pollution, not just inside the home but also in the outside environment, here is a list of some basic guidelines to follow:

  1. Consider changing your mode of transportation – look into public transportation (buses, transit lines, etc.) or organizing a carpool for work and other extracurricular activities.
  2. Look into the possibility of changing over to clean energy for your home – think solar power or wind turbines instead of oil or wood-powered heating appliances.
  3. Support local businesses to reduce the amount of items and products that need to be shipped and/or trucked into your location whenever possible.
  4. Weather reports – to reduce the effect of air pollution to your person, browse through weather reports to find out the smog index for the day and consider closing the Installing solar panels on roofwindows of the home on muggy days. Exercise away from heavily trafficked roads when possible and limit the amount of time spent in areas where air pollution is visible.
  5. Install a whole home humidifier to reduce the amount of air pollution found in the residence caused by common household pollutants (cleaning products, cooking,heating methods, etc.)

Protect yourself at home

Pollutants in your home, such as dust, dander, dead skin, and other particles are everywhere, despite your best efforts to clean. The heat and air conditioning assure that these never truly settle, blowing air through the dwelling. Fans are similar, spreading these so that we’re breathing them in all the time. The dryer the air is, the more likely these are to permeate the air since there is no moisture to weigh them down and keep them at least stuck to a surface.

A humidifier can dampen this, keeping as many harmful pollutants from floating around in the air. In addition, humidifiers have filters, which help reduce any particles in the water that may pollute your air, therefore emitting fewer pollutants overall.

Ok, but which one should I get?

Furnace with whole-home humidifier

Warm mist humidifiers use heat to evaporate water, turning it into steam and blowing it out into the air around you. This is effective, but there are seve

They require a heating element of some kind, which means the unit may be hot to the touch and could burn you or a small child.ral negative factors involved.

  • The water is essentially boiled to produce the mist, which means if you bump it, you risk spilling boiling water on your skin and burning yourself.
  • A lot of warm mist humidifiers don’t have an automatic shut off when they run out of the water, which could cause the unit to burn up, reducing the lifespan of the humidifier.

By contrast, a cool mist humidifier uses either a wick and a fan or ultrasound to create water molecules that can be spread into the air around you. A cool mist humidifier doesn’t affect the ambient temperature of a room as much as a warm mist humidifier, so you don’t need to adjust your thermostat accordingly. In addition, they are much safer, since there is no threat of being burned from either the tank or hot water. They tend to run very quietly, though the ultrasonic units are quieter than the wick and fan versions most of the time.

Features to Watch for in Humidifiers

To be sure that your humidifier is going to help with the air pollution in your home, make sure of several features that are incorporated into the unit before you purchase, including:

  • A filter (few humidifiers don’t have one, but check just in case)
  • An antibacterial system
  • Automatic shut off
  • Timer
  • Adjustable humidistat and mist levels
  • A diffuser (which can be used for essential oils)
  • A large tank (so you don’t have to refill twice a day)

Conclusion

Making sure your respiratory system doesn’t suffer from air pollution in your home is important, probably more so than worrying about the air outside. You’re confined into space, and if you aren’t careful, your home will be the place that you’re least comfortable because you have too many pollutants and allergens that you’re breathing in. With a humidifier, not only will you increase the overall air quality in your home by assuring you have enough moisture in your air; you’ll also help control the pollutants that would otherwise plague you and your health and wellness. It’s a small investment, with tons of options for sizes and types, so you should be able to find something that suits you and your family’s needs in your home with little trouble.


Gavin Wilson is the director of content over at goodairgeeks.com. He lives with his wife, his dog (Mr. Peanut Butter), and his "attack cat" (Bojack!). He is a nature lover and cares deeply about the environment. He hopes to help make a cleaner and greener Earth with this website.


Tags:  air pollution  climate change  humidifier  physical wellness 

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