This post was coauthored by Jane Martin, RT and Kristen Szymonik BS, RRT, AE-C
Way back on one of the first check-ins I posted, we talked about where we grew up - in the city, suburbs, or an industrial or farm area - and the impact it may have had on our health. Today we're going to talk about where we live now and what the air quality is like. We'll think about air quality both outside and inside our homes, and how it affects us.
The COPD Foundation knows that there are visitors to this website from many different countries around the world. We invite you all to think about the air where you live, and ask, "How is the air quality in your country?"
But first, let's look at some facts.
The American Lung Association's "State of the Air" 2020 report found that close to 150 million people in the U.S. live in counties with unhealthy ozone and/or pollution levels.[i]
Ozone is a powerful oxidant in the air we breathe. It can irritate and constrict the airways in the lungs, especially on hot sunny days when it can reach unhealthy levels. Local weather reports on television and online can tell you when the ozone is at a hazardous level.
Particle pollution can be found in particles that are too small for us to see, even in air that looks clean. These particles come from many sources including industrial areas, busy city roads, wood stoves, fireplaces, and campfires. They can make their way into the lungs, causing serious health effects for those at risk, such as people with lung disease or other disorders.
The indoor air we breathe can also be hazardous to our health. Some common indoor air pollutants are caused by new building materials and paints, cleaning products, and excess moisture. The use of home appliances that burn fuel, such as fireplaces and wood stoves, also contribute to poor indoor air quality.
The use of fuel-burning stoves should be used in well ventilated areas to help prevent indoor air quality problems. According to current World Health Organization estimates, much of the world's population—up to 50%— uses fuel burning stoves for cooking and heating their homes.[ii] The use of these home appliances produce high levels of household air pollution, including small soot particles that go deep into the lungs.
How is the air quality where you live? Does it affect your health, and if so, how?
Let's talk! I look forward to hearing from you!
[i] American Lung Association. State of the Air 2020. April 2020. www.lung.org/sota
[ii] World Health Organization. Household air pollution and health. May 2018. Household air pollution and health (who.int)