Dr. Sharron Louie
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Wellness Trend Corner
Air Pollution and Public Health

Industrial growth and minimal environmental standards are contributing to unsafe levels of air pollution in many areas around the world. The World Health Organization rates pollution levels according to the Air Quality Index, with an AQI rating of 20 considered optimal. As the AQI value increases, so do the health risks. At the upper end of the spectrum, a ranking of 300 to 500 is deemed hazardous, triggering emergency warnings. ABC News reported that air pollution levels in Beijing have averaged 300 in recent weeks, but a new high recorded by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing charted off the scale at a whopping 755.

Dr. Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at WHO, said, “Indoor air pollution mostly affects developing countries. Half the world still relies on solid fuels like wood for heating and cooking. It’s inefficient and damaging to health and causes 3.5 million premature deaths every year.”

A recent international study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal suggested a link in air pollution exposure by expectant mothers to lowered birth weight in their babies. Researchers found that birth weight decreased by about one-third ounce for every 10-microgram increase of pollution particles per cubic meter of air. Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of infant mortality, as well as cardiovascular, respiratory and behavior problems in later life.

 

There’s no doubt that reducing exposure to air pollution can benefit everyone. For cleaner air while at home or at work — where people spend a majority of their day — installing efficient indoor air filtration systems can go a long way toward minimizing daily exposure to air pollutants.

 

Sources: Yahoo! News; AIRNow.gov; L.A. Times; LiveScience.com