Summertime is a time for increased outdoor activity and fun. But, along with warmer temperatures come concerns about the air pollution. Depending upon the pollution, temperature and particulate matter, the air can become thick and heavy, making it difficult for those with asthma and other respiratory problems difficult to breathe.
But, along with these common complaints, some other more ominous ailments that have been directly linked to cancer and other serious diseases. What are they and what can we do to protect ourselves?
Find out how to protect yourself from these more serious diseases.
First of all, fuel combustion exhausts from car engines is a lethal addition to the air we breathe. During this process, fuel is consumed in a heating process wherein a hydrocarbon (gasoline) reacts with oxygen in the air to release energy. The byproducts, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, also a byproduct, forces heat to remain near the surface of the earth, also contributes to global warming.
What are the dangers?
Studies have found that high nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide levels place people at higher risk for headaches, thus prompting more emergency room visits during the summer. The reason is that the pollutants have inflammatory effects on the blood vessels. (Inflammation weakens the body’s defenses against disease due to increased release of free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for disease). Increased occurrence of breast cancer has also been linked to higher than normal levels of nitrogen dioxide. Fuel combustion has been shown to increase inflammation in the body with cases of appendicitis being linked to this pollutant. Blood pressure can also soar because some of the pollutants in the air can cause constriction of the blood vessels thus driving up the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). Is it any wonder that these chronic diseases are resisting successful treatment?
What can be done for prevention?
Plan outdoor activity when the air quality is the best. This is usually in the morning or evening. Also, make sure that any work outs or exercising is done far away from busy highways or heavily traveled roads.
Listen to your body. If you feel sick. Stop the activity. This is very dangerous to overall health anyway.