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Amazing Facts

Air pollution-a breathing problem

We know that breathing polluted air causes at least short-term health
problems. We don't fully understand the long-term effects, but some
components of air pollution have been shown to cause cancer in animals.

Respiratory problems are a major threat from breathing dirty air.
Difficulty breathing, coughing, nasal stuffiness and sinus problems are
common symptoms. Problems stemming from chronic respiratory disease such
asthma and emphysema are exacerbated by air pollution. Pollutants also
irritate mucous membranes in the nose, throat and eyes. Subtle
neurotoxic effects including confusion, delayed reactions and blunting
of memory have also been linked to air pollution.

Combustion of fossil fuels is responsible for most outdoor air
pollution. Gas and diesel-fired vehicles, industry and home heating all
contribute to combustion-generated pollution. Vehicles emit carbon
monoxide, a pollutant that robs the body of oxygen, which is hard on the
heart. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, other components
of vehicle exhaust, combine with sunlight to produce ozone, a gas that
causes chest pain and cough when deeply inhaled.

Home heating with wood stoves and fireplaces causes fine particulate
matter air pollution. Studies have shown decreased lung function in
children living in areas with high volumes of wood smoke.

Stepping inside doesn't necessarily lessen your chances of breathing
polluted air. In many cases indoor air contains more pollutants than
outdoor air. Indoor air pollution is caused by furnishings, household
cleansing products, paints, solvents, off-gassing from clothes brought
from the dry cleaners, and various products used in hobbies.

Because all of these sources of air pollution have been found to have
adverse health effects, Koenig makes the following suggestions to reduce
your exposure to pollutants:

* Don't exercise outside alongside a busy traffic arterial. Try to plan
your outdoor exercise at off-peak traffic hours.

* Don't exercise outdoors when the air is stagnant. Lack of wind for a
couple of days leads to stagnant conditions and build-up of pollutants.

* Avoid burning in your fireplace or wood stove, particularly in urban
areas. You'll reduce your exposure and your neighbors'.

* Hang clothes from the cleaners outdoors for several days before
bringing them into the house.

* Open windows if you plan to paint or refinish wood floors indoors or
whenever you use chemical compounds.

* Ignite your barbecue briquettes with an electric starter.

* When you buy new carpets or cabinets for your home, require the
manufacturer to tell you the chemical makeup. You can request materials
that do not emit formaldehyde or other irritants.

* Ride the bus whenever possible and reduce the air pollution generated
from your automobile.

Related Tags: Pollution  Breathing  Air  
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