Avoiding Air Pollution

It isn’t always easy, but you can take steps to avoid air pollution. Pollution particles can come from many sources both man-made and natural: traffic, smoking, wildfires, factories and refineries, etc.

Air pollution can be everywhere, not just in industrial or dense city settings. Pollution in the air can lead to major problems for you and your heart.

Pollution particles can come from many sources both manmade and natural: traffic, smoking, wildfires, factories and refineries, etc.

According to the American Heart Association, “Pollution is also believed to have inflammatory effects on the heart, causing chronic cardiovascular problems.”

High-pollution days are believed to trigger health issues like asthma and other respiratory diseases, and cardiac arrest in individuals with heart disease and/or atherosclerosis.

The AMA released a scientific statement in 2010 saying that short-term exposure can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias and heart failure in susceptible people, such as the elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions, according to the statement.

Avoiding the air pollution:
There are ways that you can make things easier on your lungs and heart by avoiding smog, ozone and smoke pollution.

Ozone is lower between 6-10 a.m., so if you are going for a jog, do so in the morning. Plan your time outdoors away from busy street traffic; especially avoid idling cars and parking lots. Emissions linger in the air and you don’t want to be breathing in all of the auto exhaust and smog.

Use the weather to your advantage. April through October have the highest levels of ozone typically, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be high in the remaining months of the year. Windier conditions make for a better diffusion of pollution and smog, so run, walk or work downwind of it.

Learn what the air quality is like near you before you head out. The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures the five most common ambient air pollutants that are regulated under the Clean Air Act: particle pollution (or particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen monoxide and ground-level ozone.

Lastly, get a boost of vitamin C to help your lungs! Fruits and veggies like spinach, broccoli and citrus, reduce free radicals, lower inflammatory histamines and help increase the body’s glutathione to aid in breaking down carcinogens and heavy metals. The AQI tells you how clean or polluted your local air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.

Be smart about what you are breathing in.

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