Tag Archives: air pollution

Air Pollution and Disease: Can Air Filters Help?

air pollution from factory chimneyPollution is not just ugly and smelly; It is a serious health issue too. And it is not just about causing and exacerbating lung disease and sinus problems, but much more seriously there is now evidence that air pollution is a powerful factor in the causation of ADHD, autism and infertility.

We got to see just how serious air pollution could be back in the 1950s in smoggy old London. The smog was caused by the smoke from sulphur rich coal that was used in British fireplaces. The clean air act cleared the air and saved goodness knows how many lives too.

The change to burning a different type of coal and to using gas fires certainly did clear the air, but our pollution problems may actually have got worse since then.

Industry has moved on and is producing thousands of new chemical based products, many of them producing invisible vapours, which because we cannot see them seem to be innocent and inoffensive.

Modern pollutants appear as phthalates (silent “p”), plasticizers, Organophosphates, Bisphenol A and solvents. Even the names of these give me “the creeps!” and they will appear in future posts.

To tell whether or not our homes are safe now we need modern technology that can “sniff” the air in our home to check to see if it is safe and this technology is very expensive and complex to use and to interpret.

And it is not just these chemical vapours produced in our homes from the paint work, curtains and carpets that we and our family are breathing in but we are also breathing the pollution produced outside the home – emitted by vehicles and chimneys – all this spreads inside the home and cannot be kept outside.

No matter how clean you keep your home the burden of external air pollution cannot be avoided and can only be dealt with by a high quality air filter.

Air Filters For Every Use

There are various types of air filter. Yes they all filter out dust and pollution from the air but they do so with a level of thoroughness and deficiency depending on the technology they use and their price!

A basic filter will trap dust particles and remove them from being recirculated by the heating and ventilation systems again and again.

Particles come in different sizes and all filters will be able to deal with large particles and probably not be able to deal with the very small particles called “particulates”.

High efficiency filters are called HEPA filters, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and filter out even the tiny particles 1/3 of a micron in size.

Such HEPA filters can be built into vacuum cleaners and even high end cars and aircraft but are commonly used in portable standalone home appliances used in homes where someone has asthma or allergies to reduce the load of allergens that they breathe in.

The air filter mentioned in the video above has an extra unit to filter vapours from fragrances and volatile chemicals.

To read more about the IQAir® Filter go here and if you know of a retailer selling this at a lower cost please let me know and I can share the news right here. Thanks!

Photo Credit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

 

Air Pollution and its Toxic Effects on Mothers and Babies

baby watching traffic out the windowResearch just published shows a clear connection between  mothers experiencing air pollution and babies being born below a normal birth weight.

A Low birth weight is regarded as 2.5 kg or 5.5 Ibs and 7.6% of US babies and 6% UK babies are recorded as being in this category.

Some of these babies are born prematurely – before 37 weeks and they may go on to be completely normal children and adults. Some of them are affected by high blood pressure or diabetes of other health issues of the mother.

Low birth weight, called LBW by the researchers,  babies may have poorly developed lungs or brain or other organs, the variability depending on the cause and amount of the pollution and any other factors in the environment.

Factors such as polluted food such as mercury polluted fish

"Mercury is a known toxic heavy metal that can harm fetal growth and health, and there has been evidence showing that exposure to mercury (via consumption of large oily fish) during pregnancy may be related to higher risks of LBW in the offspring."  http://is.gd/NoofkA

The most obvious aggravating factor of course is smoking.

In this study traffic was the main contributor and living near high traffic shows up as a risk factor. The researchers even measured the circumference of the baby's head they found smaller with increased pollution.

The pollution from traffic was compared to the effect on the baby of Mom smoking, so traffic pollution compares to cigarettes as far the baby is concerned.

The researchers speculated about how the vehicle exhausts actually exerted harm on the baby. They mentioned the effect of "pro-inflammatory mediators" in the blood and compared the situation to Mothers in the third world using fires with low quality fuel and breathing in the smoke produced.

In spite of this being a large study with 74, 178 women in 12 European countries the researchers were reluctant to make recommendations on how to reduce this hazard to the health of Mothers and babies in the future.

So what can you do – if you cannot move house and get cleaner air to breath for the whole family?

Outside the home – you an lobby. Whether as an individual or as a group and whether online or face to face, you can make a difference.

You can lobby government and the car companies. Even local government can alter traffic flow by re-routing traffic.

Inside the home you can investigate air purifiers – I'm thinking HEPA filters here and you can have air purifying plants in your home.

And inside your own body – since the problem in inflammation then the solution is to take good anti-inflammatory supplements like powdered flax seeds and vitamin C and D. And for the diet to eat more vitamin rich vegetables and less meat.

We are not powerless against these huge problems; we can help ourselves and others too.

What will you do? Please comment below and share on Facebook!

Thanks

Alex

credits

  • photo of baby Notes from the photographer say that, "One of Helena's favourite pastimes is making faces at the people in cars stuck in the traffic in front of her house. They laugh, and she cracks up."
  • research review and The Lancet here

Air Pollution, Cancer Deaths and the WHO

air pollution in LondonThe media is currently publishing updates from the World Health Organisation, WHO, showing that air pollution is killing us.

That this is regarded as news is odd really. Back in the 1950s in London, my home town, we had the "Pea Soupers" – thick fogs caused mostly by householders burning sulphur rich coal in their homes.

Some of the horror of those times and a little science too is well explained here

"The London smog, compared with a normal fog or even other urban smogs, was especially lethal because it contained high quantities of sulphur oxides (from the cheap sulphurous coal) that reacted with the moisture in the air to produce a dilute, but lung-corrosive, sulphuric acid mist. The killer brew, to some people, triggered massive inflammation of the lungs – in other words thousands of people died almost through suffocation." http://is.gd/Vi4dnj

Hundreds of people died. In a major episode of fog in 1952 4000 extra deaths were recorded in the space of a few days! http://is.gd/VwJvLe

Eventually the government stirred itself into action and passed "the Clean Air Act" banning the type of coal concerned and London air got cleaner and those of us suffering from asthma had an easier time of things.

As the years went by our new clean and sweet air was tainted by the number of cars increasing on the roads.

And the asthma cases got more common again!

We need another clean air act! And this time we get vehicles to stop burning fossil fuels! Electric only has to be the rule!

Given the above when the WHO published recent data showing Cancer deaths I barely batted an eyelid.

Air pollution has been killing thousands all round the world for decades and whether they die from asthma or heart attacks or cancer hardly matters. A love one dead may be a minor statistic to the authorities but it is a major life event to anyone else.

But Cancer is iconic. It inspires a unique and characteristic fear quite unlike any other disease so I guess that is why folks are noticing deaths now that in other causes of death would just slip under the radar.

From the point of view of a health conscious person wanting to help themselves as much as possible then avoiding exposure to toxic fog and smog is desirable. Sometimes however we have to work in polluted cities at least for a while.

So we turn to self help methods to build our defenses and detox the body.

1. First we can limit our exposure. We may not be able to live in a less polluted place right now but we should avoid needless exposure. Some people run and exercise near heavy traffic and this can be easily avoided.
2. Eat an anti-oxidant rich diet. The body needs lots of nutrient to counter act the toxic gas we breathe in and Vitamin C would be a main helper on this task. The toxic fog causes inflammation so several grams of vitamin C would be useful as well as a few desert spoons of ground flax seeds. Including greens and onions daily would give the body much needed support from these powerful plant families.
3. Many herbs can be used to give extra energy and support. Some for general endurance like Ginseng and others such as lobelia and thyme specially target the lungs
4. Personal help from a health practitioner is strongly recommended in such a trying situation so that your personal strengths and weaknesses can be accounted for.

We always have the option of responding with intelligent action s using the natural healing power of nature whenever we encounter tough circumstances. A good diet along with appropriate stress reduction can get us through most challenges.

Smog and other environmental challenges come and go and are best dealt with knowing how powerful your own choices are and how powerful natural remedies are.

Credits

London Smog gwire