The good news is the wake up call from COVID-19 is that we must fundamentally change the way we are relating to and treating Mother Earth!
"Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the children of the earth. If we spit upon the ground we spit upon ourselves… The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth" -Chief Seattle
We have spit on the ground with our air pollution, factory farms, monocultural agriculture, overly indulgent diets, too much stress and more. Humans have created a situation where out-of-control virulent pathogens can emerge and meet with our weakened immune systems, resulting in our current and future pandemics. This is the reality when you put stressed out animals with stressed out humans in close proximity.
The ultimate cure is to clean up our environment and faulty life style habits: use clean energy, practice eco-agriculture, eliminate factory farms where outbreaks of viruses and bacteria often originate from, and eat a primarily organic plant based diet.
Two studies out of China have demonstrated a positive association between air pollution and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome- associated with these zoonotic viruses) fatalties in Chinese population. Not accounting for additional compounding effects of other pollutants like smoking and bad diet, this shows detrimental effects of air pollution on the prognosis of SARS. The following are just a few byproducts of oil/coal burning that we are often exposed to by increased traffic that air purifiers can eliminate. These pollutants specifically increase are propensity towards viral respiratory infections:
Ozone is a naturally occurring gas found in both the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where it helps block out harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. However, when ozone is found at ground level, it’s toxic to human beings.
Ground-level ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, refineries, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Ever wonder why there’s more of that unsightly smog during hot summer days? That’s because the hotter the day and the stronger the sun, the more ozone is formed.
Exposure to ozone pollution can cause a multitude of alarming health effects, including
- shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing
- asthma attacks
- increased risk of respiratory infections
- increased risk of stroke
- increased risk of premature death
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a harsh-smelling gas formed as a result of road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes.
To make matters more malicious, nitrogen dioxide is also a precursor for ozone and particulate matter, and it plays a role in the formation of acid rain.17
You’ll encounter nitrogen dioxide indoors if your heater or gas stove is unvented (also carbon monoxide as previously mentioned). Nitrogen dioxide can cause such health effects as:
- irritation to lungs
- lower resistance to respiratory infections
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a colorless gas or liquid with a strong, pungent odor.
Unfortunately, the presence of sulfur dioxide in the air is almost exclusively man-made. Sulfur dioxide is produced when fossil fuels such as coal and oil are burned in industrial processes, and when mineral ores like aluminum are smelted.
This noxious gas is also frequently responsible for causing poor visibility and acid rain. The short-term health effects of sulfur dioxide exposure include:18
- irritation to nose and throat
- shortness of breath
- death (short-term exposure to high levels of SO2)
Long-term health effects of sulfur dioxide exposure include:
• permanent changes to lung function
• acute respiratory illness
Let’s clear the air: Pollution isn’t going away, so here’s
how to deal with it
You may not be able to single handedly stop pollutants, but you can follow these realistic, actionable steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from being exposed to dangerous air pollutants:
- Use an AIR QUALITY MONITOR Lightweight, ultra-precise, and powered by the world’s largest air quality data network, the AirVisual Pro lets you know exactly how clean or hazardous your air is. Take charge of your health and use the free Air Quality app to get real-time forecast and historical air pollution data.
- Use a HIGH PERFORMANE AIR PURIFIERto clean your indoor air. Must be proven to filter harmful ultrafine particles down to 0.003 microns — that’s ten times smaller than a virus and 100 times smaller than what a HEPA filter can capture.
- Properly maintain your gas appliances. Make sure your stove, heater, and other gas-powered appliances are regularly maintained by a trained professional.
- Consider switching to gas logs instead of wood. Even when properly maintained, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces produce a significant amount of combustible pollutants such as CO, NO2, and ultrafine particles.
- Ditch toxic synthetic cleaners, paints, and other household chemicals. Replace them with eco-friendly, naturally-derived products to reduce your exposure to harmful VOCs or volatile organic compounds.
- Remove mold and allergy sources from your home. Make sure your home is well ventilated, regularly cleaned, and has a relative humidity of 30%-60% to reduce your exposure to these biological pollutants.
- Reduce your exposure to in-car pollution with a car air purifier. In-car pollution is far more hazardous than you think, with over 275 dangerous chemicals creeping around in the cabin of new cars.19 The Atem Car eliminates 99% of particle pollutants in your car cabin up to 20 times per hour, so you can enjoy odor, gas, chemical, and particle-free air wherever the road takes you.
Cynthia Preston, ND