Curious about what particle pollution is and how it can impact your health? Then you've come to the right place! Keep reading to find out what particle pollution is, where it comes from, and 5 quick tips on how to protect yourself against this type of air pollution.
What is particle pollution?
Particle pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency is “a general term for a mixture of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air.” In other words, these are tiny particles floating around in your air. Some common particles include the obvious culprits - dirt, dust, smoke, and soot. Although these are the obvious ones, something most people aren’t aware of is that it’s not always as obvious when they are surrounding you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “some particles are big enough (or appear dark enough) to see — for example, you can often see smoke in the air. Others are so small that you can’t see them in the air.” So it’s safe to say that even if you can’t see these particles, they are most likely still there.
How does particle pollution impact my health?
According to the CDC, “Breathing in particle pollution can be harmful to your health. Coarse (bigger) particles, called PM10, can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. Dust from roads, farms, dry riverbeds, construction sites, and mines are types of PM10. Fine (smaller) particles, called PM2.5, are more dangerous because they can get into the deep parts of your lungs — or even into your blood.” Now you might be thinking, “If I just stay inside more often I will be better off, right?” This is not necessarily true. The smaller particles that you may be exposed to outdoors, because of their size, are able to penetrate into your home easily without detection. Because of this, it is crucial to protect yourself and your family from this pollution, as long-term exposure can have harmful health effects.
How can I protect myself and my loved ones from particle pollution?
Particle pollution surrounds us, and it's most likely not going away any time soon. So how can you protect yourself and your family from the hidden dangers of particle pollution? Focus on the things you can control. Here are 5 quick tips that can help:
1. Be aware of your outdoor air quality. Certain areas or regions can have worse air quality than others, so stay up to date on what the air quality in your area looks like. A great, free resource to check out is https://www.airnow.gov/ . All you need to do is type in your zip code and it will give you your area’s air quality status so you can easily stay up to date.
2. Try to distance yourself from busy roads and highways. Particle pollution is typically heavier in these areas because of the high amount of emissions coming from the cars and trucks on the road.
3. Take care of the air in your home. Proper, high-quality air filtration is crucial to keep the air inside of your home fresh and clear of particle pollution. Be sure to choose a filter that fits your system correctly and creates an air-tight seal to prevent particles from bypassing the filter. If the particles go around the filter, what's the point of even having a filter, right?
4. When cooking indoors, use exhaust fans if you have them. If you do not have an exhaust fan, opening up a window or two can help increase the ventilation.
5. Limit (or stop using completely) candles and incense indoors. We know these smell really nice, but in actuality, they are causing more harm than good. Instead, try replacing candles and incense with an essential oil diffuser to get that same nice smell, but without the harmful effects.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.