Air pollution poses significant health risks, so you need to take steps to protect yourself, an environmental health expert says.
Researchers have linked air pollution with health problems such as childhood asthma, pregnancy and birth complications, and heart disease. Pollution and environmental risks are responsible for 1.7 million child deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization.
But there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from air pollution, said Yifang Zhu. She’s a professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles.
- Pay attention to wind patterns. They change throughout the day, blowing pollutants toward or away from your home. Close your home’s windows when the wind is blowing from the highway or another source of air pollution.
- During the summer, ozone pollution — created when pollutants from cars, buses and factories react to sunlight — peaks in the early afternoon. Try to avoid vigorous exercise outside during early afternoon on summer days and do it at another time of day, Zhu suggested.
- Keep your home’s air clean by using a high efficiency (HEPA) air purifier. It will reduce particle levels in your home, even if outside air is heavily polluted.
The American Lung Association has more on air pollution.