Wearing a mask has become a standard precaution these days. However, even before the fierce onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already an unseen enemy lingering everywhere that necessitated the use of masks: Air Pollution.
Air pollution occurs when any chemical, physical, or biological factor contaminates the indoor or outdoor environment, altering the inherent properties of the atmosphere. Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial operations, and forest fires are the most common air pollution causes.
Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are also pollutants of serious public health concerns. Air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, is a leading cause of respiratory and other disorders and a significant source of morbidity and mortality.From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, air pollution poses a major threat to health and climate. In this article, you will be seeing the horrific consequences of air pollution and what measures you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Air Pollution: The Unseen Killer
Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people, or 1 in 8 deaths worldwide, every year.According to WHO data, nearly all of the world's population (99%) breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income nations bearing the brunt of the burden.
Air pollution is a huge hazard to health and the environment, from smog hanging over cities to smoke within the home. Millions of people die prematurely each year due to the combined impacts of ambient and household air pollution, primarily due to increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections.
Ambient (Outdoor) Air Pollution
Stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory ailments are among the estimated 4.2 million deaths caused by ambient air pollution each year.Nearly all of the population is living in areas where air quality exceeds WHO limits. While both affluent and developing countries are affected by ambient air pollution, low- and middle-income countries bear the brunt of the burden, with the highest toll in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.
Air pollution comes from a variety of places, each with its range of concerns. For illustration, residential energy for cooking and heating, cars, electricity generation, agriculture or waste incineration, and industry are all major sources of outdoor pollution.As a result, policies and investments that support integrated policies for sustainable land use, cleaner household energy and transportation, energy-efficient housing, power generation, industry, and better municipal waste management are being drafted and established.
Household Air Pollution
In the developing world, household air pollution is one of the primary causes of sickness and early mortality.
Cooking fire smoke exposure causes 3.8 million premature deaths per year, most of which occur in low- and middle-income economies. Inefficient stoves or open hearths emit several health-damaging pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), methane, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and volatile organic compounds (VOC).
Furthermore, burning kerosene in simple wick lamps emits large amounts of small particles and other contaminants. Notably, Particulate Matter is a particularly dangerous contaminant. Numerous studies have found a direct link between PM exposure and harmful health effects.Particles with lower diameters (PM2.5 or smaller) are more harmful. In contrast, ultrafine particles (one micron in diameter or less) can permeate tissues and organs, posing an even larger risk of systemic health effects.
With that in mind, here are some easy-to-follow guidelines for protecting yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of air pollution:
- Close your windows. The first step in keeping smokey air out of your home is to close your windows. Circulation and filtration would be the following measures. To circulate the air in your home, use fans and, if possible, filters to eliminate pollutants.
- Make use of central air conditioning. As previously stated, keep your home's windows and doors shut. Make use of fans to circulate the air. Examine your filter to see whether it needs to get replaced.
- You should avoid certain chores. You should avoid vacuuming, dusting, and anything else that kicks up dust particles. These activities can exacerbate the problem of poor indoor air quality. Alternative cleaning methods include wet mopping and vacuuming with HEPA-filtered vacuums.
- Stay indoors. When it is smokey outside, you should cease doing anything outdoors, including running and recreational activities. Moreover, listen to advisories and cancel all your plans of going outdoors when recommended.
- Use an N95 mask. Cloth masks do not usually protect against smoke, and fine particles slide right through them. To protect yourself from smoke, wear an N95 mask that filters out tiny particles.
How N95 Masks Mitigate the Disruptive Health Issues Related to Breathing Particles
Particulate masks are a type of respirator that resemble surgical masks in appearance. Particulate masks are usually more close-fitting and have fewer pleats because they get designed to protect the wearer. Some variants may also include a filtered exhalation valve. Particulate masks, often known as pollution masks, can filter up to 90% of airborne particles.One of the most common types of particulate masks is N95. N95 masks, as their name suggests, provide at least 95% filtration, making them more difficult to breathe through. Furthermore, industrial respirators like N95s have nearly no space, ensuring that the mask fits as closely as possible against the face for maximum protection. Moreover, N95, unlike surgical masks, uses a considerably denser filtering material to defend against germs and PM2.5 particulate pollution, including:
- Industrial and Agricultural Emissions
- Vehicle Exhaust
- Wildsmoke Fire
While respirators protect against germs and viruses, they also provide higher resistance to inhalation than a normal mask. As a result, if respirators are unnecessary, it is best to stick to conventional face masks. Short-term protection and keeping others safe from your coughs and sneezes are best with N95 and non-medical particle masks.
Although the world will never be completely free of pollutants and contaminants, you can still ensure that you are secure and shielded from the worst of them. While air pollution is unavoidable, there are several things you can take to reduce your exposure. Wear an N95 mask and help clean up pollution sources at the national, state, and local levels.For your N95 mask needs, trust Merilogy.