Breathing is the most essential action needed to stay alive. If you stop breathing for only 5 minutes you can die. Who do we have to thank for this? The lungs. Every day you are breathing in pollution that your lungs have to deal with. What exactly is this doing to you?
First lets talk about what exactly goes on in our respiratory tract.
WHAT DO THE LUNGS DO?
- Humans breathe in 1000 to 21000 Liters of air every day depending on age, body size and physical activity. The more activity performed, the higher the oxygen demands, so to the more you need to breathe.
- The surface area of the inside of the lung is about the same size as one side of a tennis court. That’s a lot of area that is vulnerable to harmful particles.
- The lungs are responsible for getting oxygen into the blood and getting carbon dioxide and other waste material out of the blood and eliminated through breathing.
- The lungs are responsible for their own housekeeping – they have to keep the bad stuff out.
HOW DO THE LUNGS CLEAR OUT THE BAD STUFF?
A variety of different particles such as bacteria, viruses and environmental pollutants are deposited in the lungs while breathing. The lung uses a ‘trap and sweep‘ method of defending itself against inhaled microbes and irritants. This is called mucociliary clearance (MCC).
- The clearance team consists of:
- MUCUS SECRETION – Mucus that traps invading particles and microbes.
- CILIA ACTION – Hair like structures that sweep the particle-mucus combination out of the respiratory tract.
- CHEST MUSCLES and DIAPHRAGM – These muscles contract when we cough to accelerate the removal of lung irritants.
HOW DOES POLLUTION HARM THE LUNGS?
Do you live in a city or near a city? Do you live within 10 km of a busy road? In today’s society the majority will answer yes to one or both of those questions. Unfortunately there is a drawback to living conveniently close to highly populated area or highways. That my friends is a higher degree of pollution exposure.
So what’s pollution’s deal? What does it do to the lungs?
- Elevated ozone concentrations are associated with increases in lung-related hospitalizations and mortality
- Of the most common air pollutants, particulate matter (PM) is associated with an increased risk of exacerbations and respiratory symptoms in individuals with existing lung disease
- In an animal study, diesel exhaust particle (pollution from diesel vehicles) exposure led to increased rates of allergic reactivity and asthma
- Postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke is causally related to the development childhood asthma
- Ozone exposure is associated with hospital admissions, worsening of symptoms, rescue medication, asthma attacks and respiratory infections
- A longitudinal birth cohort study reports that children living near major roads have increased odds of runny nose and sneezing during the first year of life
It’s pretty clear that pollution has it out for the lungs.
SO WHAT CAN HELP?
Aside from city dwellers packing up and hitting the road to a more rural setting, what exactly can be done to offset the negative consequences of pollution?
A trusty AIR PURIFIER.
Our top pick air purifier for air particle pollution is the Winix 5500-2. This choice is based on its competitive price, spectacular reviews and its multiple filter systems installed within the unit.
To read the reviews and unit specs on amazon click here – Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA, PlasmaWave and Odor Reducing Carbon Filter