Air Quality and Asthma – Breathe a Little Easier
Most people are all too familiar with asthma. Many know someone who struggles with it and know how scary an asthma attack can be. About 25 million Americans have asthma, a chronic lung disease with no cure.
Asthma is a lung disease that causes airways to become inflamed, narrow, and swollen. Those with asthma’s lungs produce excess mucus, which makes breathing difficult. Those suffering from an asthma attack may feel a tight chest, experience coughing or wheezing, or feel as if they cannot catch their breath.
Asthma is treated with inhalers but is often severe enough to keep people away from their daily lives. Asthma often keeps kids out of school, sidelines them from physical activities or sports, and can cause adults to miss days of work when they are having a flare-up.
How Does Air Quality Affect Asthma?
Pollutants in the air have severe effects on kids and adults with asthma. These pollutants irritate the airways, making them swell and tighten up, which can cause difficulty breathing.
Pollutants can also make individuals with asthma more likely to catch upper respiratory infections like colds, which can further agitate asthma symptoms. If allergens in the air are an asthma trigger, pollutants can make the lungs even more sensitive to them.
What Pollutants Affect Breathing?
You may be familiar with the ozone layer and how it shields us from the sun's rays. While this ozone protects us, there is another layer of ozone that is closer to the ground, aptly called ground-level ozone.
Ground-level ozone can harm the lungs. It forms when chemicals from cars, power plants, and factories mix with sunlight. This "ozone pollution" is the main component of smog — the brownish-yellow haze often seen hanging above cities on the horizon. The negative effects of ground level ozone pollution can be exasperated on hot days or in warmer parts of the country.
Particle pollution also can cause breathing problems. Particle pollution is created when tiny bits of dust, dirt, smoke, soot, and other similar small particles are suspended in the air. The smaller the particles, the deeper they can get into the lungs, which can cause breathing problems and other issues.
Urbanization is also a contributor to asthma and other lung problems, due to the increased outdoor air pollution that goes hand in hand with construction. Since many urban centers in the developing world are undergoing rapid population growth, air pollution will increase, which also increases the global burden of asthma.
How Can I Help People with Asthma?
Check the Air Quality Index
If you live in an area with poor air quality, it is important to pay attention to pollution levels, and consider staying inside if air quality is going to be especially poor. You can get daily information from weather reports on the news or apps, or by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency at www.airnow.gov.
Personal Air Purifier
You cannot always stay inside. When you can’t avoid leaving the house on a day with poor air quality, try PurifyPal. PurifyPal is a personal air purifier that you wear around your neck like a necklace. PurifyPal generates large amounts of negative ions, which attach to particles and pollutants in the air, cleaning the air around you. Breathe a little easier with PurifyPal.