The variety of pollutants in the air, when mixed with cold air and fog, collectively form—smog. Smog is a mix of gases and microscopic particles that wreak havoc on the lungs of people—especially those with chronic respiratory illnesses. Every winter season, pulmonologists deal with such patients and give tips to deal with the smog season. Read on to know what these tips are:
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1. Keep a track of the air quality index
You can check the daily Air Quality Index (AQI) through the web or through the local news channel to know how polluted the air is. When the levels are particularly high, it is better to stay indoors and work from home. People with chronic disorders or sensitive airways should be particularly careful as poor air can cause acute flare-ups. In case going out is a must, take frequent breaks and be sure to use a mask with a strong filter.
2. Stay indoors
If the air quality is bad, it is best to stay indoors, especially between 11 am to 8 pm. During the bad days, it is better to stay in well-ventilated, air-conditioned spaces as they have filters for pollutants. On bad days, even exercising outside is not recommended. Smog carries small particles that can deposit inside the lungs and trigger symptoms. Therefore, it is better to stay indoors on bad days.
For some people, workplace pollutants—like chemicals, powders, and sprays—are an issue, in which case, precautions should be taken by the employer to reduce the risk.
3. Recognize indoor air pollutants
It is not necessary that only the outdoors is polluted. There are big sources of indoor pollutants as well, particularly:
- Air-freshener sprays
- Household cleaners
- Attached garages that store lawnmowers and cars as they add carbon monoxide layer in the air you breathe
- Paint products like adhesives and solvents
- Heat sources that use fuels—like wood burning stoves. These stoves add pollutants to the air and if used chronically, can also contribute to interstitial lung diseases. Such illnesses cause irreversible damage to the lungs with ongoing scarring and reduced lung capacity.
- Smoke from tobacco, fireplaces and cooking also contribute to poor indoor air quality.
- New furniture and carpets can give off toxic fumes
- Humid air in the house can allow mold to grow
- Radon gas from the ground your house is built on can rise to dangerous levels if not dealt with appropriately.
- Hair sprays, perfumes and cosmetics contribute to indoor pollution.
It is not only the outdoor air that can worsen respiratory illnesses but in fact, indoor air as well. This is why indoor air pollution should also be reduced.
4. Reduce indoor air pollution
Once the indoor air pollutants are recognized, measures should be taken to deal with them. This includes:
- Smoking cessation inside the house
- Adding a dehumidifier if the air is humid
- Storing harmful products in the area not attached to the house.
- Installing allergy friendly air filters that clean the air. Air filters are better than air cleaners as the former don’t emit ozone gas.
- Removing allergens inside the house
- Improving the ventilation in the house
- Avoiding scented candles, hair sprays and other products that contribute to air pollution.
- Switching from fuel-based heat sources to clean heat sources to avoid the smoke.
5. Carry your medication
As mentioned before, smog can worsen asthma and other chronic respiratory disorders. For such scenarios ask your healthcare provider for an action plan and carry your medication on you. Your healthcare provider can guide you better on how to tackle poor air quality and which medication can provide quick relief if need be.