Depending on where you call home, one thing is necessary – we all need air. While the amounts of toxins that reside alongside our homes, communities, schools, and factories vary, scientists are one step closer to understanding air pollution health effects and how these contaminants affect our lungs, brain, and heart.
According to a new cardiovascular study featured in the April issue of PLoS Medicine and the May 7 wellness section of the New York Times, researchers measured the ultrasounds of 5,362 men and women. With over 45 metropolitan areas being surveyed, the study measured the thickness of the right carotid artery, which carries oxygen-rich blood to the neck and head areas. In addition to testing, the researchers trailed the subjects for two and a half years, keeping track of arterial thickness and levels of harmful exposure. When individuals were exposed to higher levels of pollution, researchers noticed an increase in thickness. Even when considering race, smoking, education, and socioeconomic factors, the results were much the same.
So, how can we control what we breathe? First off, pollution is an indoor and outdoor sport, and actually, indoor air is even more polluted than what we find outside. In fact, indoor air contains 2-5 times more contaminants, such as molds, heavy metals, bioaerosols, dust, formaldehyde, phthalates, and certain building materials. Due to the smaller particle sizes, kids are especially susceptible to the air they breathe.
You might not be able to clean up the ozone, but you can preserve the quality of air in your own home. For instance, try buying some inexpensive houseplants, upgrade furnace filters, purchase a high-grade air purifier, discourage tobacco smoke, regularly open your windows for 5-20 minutes at a time, and avoid toxic cleaning products.
Inhalation, ventilation, protection, and prevention are key factors on the war against pollution, so a good proactive approach will go a long way to preserving your home, your loved one’s health, and especially your heart.