Air pollution is now a major environmental risk to our everyday health. According to World Health Organization, around 7 million deaths per year are a direct result of exposure from both outdoor and household air pollution that leads to diseases such as stroke, heart diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and respiratory infections. Drawing from this statistic, the Southeast Asia region was reported to contribute to a staggering 2 million deaths. Given the astounding numbers, preventive measures to protect yourself and your loved one are necessary in order to reduce health risks. While air quality is usually an environmental condition that you can do little about, there are a few options that may reduce exposure and health risk.
Avoid the source of pollution
The location of your residential area can be an important determinant of exposure to the air pollutant. If you are seeking to relocate your family, it is suggested for you to relocate them to a rural or suburban location that offers less exposure. However, if you are living in an urban residence, avoid concentrated traffic areas as much as you can. Traffic-related primary pollutants such as ultrafine particles or diesel soot are highly concentrated along busy roads.
Where possible, avoid taking your family for an outing in a congested area. Being in a car does not protect you from air pollution either. Your air intake can be right from the car exhaust in front of you. Opt for a greener venue for the family outing like the public park, garden and forestry as well as scheduling your exercise routine to be before the rush hour.
Improve air quality
While it may be difficult to improve the outdoor air quality you and your family are exposed to, indoor interventions can make a difference to the air quality within your home. It has been estimated that people spend approximately 90 per cent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the exposure to air pollutants may be from an indoor source instead the outdoors.
Improving ventilation can drastically improve the air quality of your home. Open your windows for at least 15 minutes a day to allow fresh air from the outdoors populate the residence. This will decrease the levels of pollutants in your home, as indoor air levels are known to be more concentrated.
You may consider purchasing an indoor air purifier and perform vacuuming of the carpets frequently to improve air quality indoors. The houseplant is not only a fantastic décor but can also help to improve the air quality inside.
Practice a balanced diet
Studies have been done on the role of our daily diet, showing that respiratory diseases may be improved with carotenoids, vitamin D and vitamin E. These supplements may help protect against pollution damage, which can trigger symptoms like asthma, COPD and lung cancer. Vitamin C, curcumin, choline and omega-3 fatty acids are also known to play a possible protective role. You may also help shield your body from the damaging effects of air pollution by increasing the intake of antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
Though you may have little control of the air you breathe every day, you can take steps to improve your indoor air quality and decrease exposure to potentially harmful pollutants. Start today with one small change and make it a habit to protect yourself and your family.