What is Air Quality Like in Your City?

Find out what air pollution is, where it comes from, and how you can protect yourself and your family.

Did you know the World Health Organization studied air quality around the world and declared 99% of the world is breathing dangerous amounts of pollutants? This figure is especially dangerous when you consider that symptoms of air pollution kill seven million people each year.

Air pollution can also cause harm to children because it is linked to brain alterations and cognitive impairments like autism, asthma, increased mental illness, and low school achievement. Living in a place with better air quality will improve your health, hormones, impulse control, and IQ. 

This information makes us wonder: why aren't more people talking about air pollution? Keep reading for more information on what air pollution is, where it comes from, and how you can protect yourself and your family. This post contains affiliate links.

What Are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are in many products used in your home. VOCs include chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and acetone. These chemicals can be found inside furniture made with particleboard, carpets, flooring, cleaning products, air fresheners, pesticides, fiberglass, gas stoves, and wood finish. 

VOCs can also be in personal care products including perfumes, hairspray, rubbing alcohol, nail polish, and nail polish remover. When VOCs interact with the ozone inside your home and sunlight, they create smog, which is both inside and outside your home.

The Harm VOCs Can Cause

VOCs can make your life miserable by irritating your eyes and nose or triggering asthma attacks. Some long-term effects include liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage, as well as cancer. The best evidence to date suggests that the higher the dose of air pollution, the worse our bodies' reactions will be. 

Because air pollution ranks as the 4th most concerning health risk factor worldwide, it's critical to identify and decrease particulate emissions. Research has demonstrated that children who live in greener neighborhoods have less asthma and do better in school.

What Are Particulates?

Particulates, or particulate matter (PM), are a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air such as dust, dirt, soot, and smoke. This particulate matter can sometimes be large and dark enough to be seen by the naked eye, and other times, the particulate is so small it can only be detected by an electron microscope.

Particle pollution includes:

PM10: inhalable particles that have a diameter of about 10 micrometers and smaller

PM2.5: fine inhalable particles that are less than 2.5 micrometers and smaller

To put this into perspective, a single hair on your head is about 70 micrometers in diameter, about 30x larger than the largest fine particle. PMs smaller than 10 micrometers pose the greatest problems because they can get deep into your lungs and even into your bloodstream. 

When you see smog in the city, you could be seeing PM 2.5, which is the cause of reduced visibility in parts of the United States. Exposure to such particles can affect both your heart and your lungs by causing premature death, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung functioning, irritation inside of the lungs, coughing, or difficulty breathing.

How Polluted Is the Air Quality In Your City? 

How do you find out how your city ranks among the world's air quality? You can monitor the air quality in your city or any other city across the United States. There are websites that will show you the current and previous air quality levels, and information about what that level means for your health.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Family From Air Pollution? 

The good news here is that 90% of your time is likely indoors, which means even though you can't control the air you breathe outside, you can control the air you breathe indoors.  It's estimated that indoor air quality can be anywhere from 2-5x more polluted than outside, so focusing on indoor air is in your best interest.

Cleaning up VOCs inside your home is as simple as switching to safer cleaning products, avoiding anything with synthetic fragrance, opening a window, getting some NASA-approved plants, cleaning up dust, and getting a HEPA air purifier. One of the most powerful air purifiers on the market are from Intellipure. I have one of these machines in my own home!

If you would like more information about how to detoxify your home from toxins and hormone-disrupting chemicals like indoor air pollution, pick up a copy of  Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!). With this book, you'll be able to battle all the foul-breathed toxic monsters within your home.

Article by Mamavation