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article imageQ&A: Why clean air should be high on your health list Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 31, 2020 in Health
Every time we breathe or speak, we inhale particles that may contain infectious viruses, which is why clean air should be number one on the world’s priority list right now. Expert Pierre Bi explains more.
As countries across the globe begin to adjust to a new normal, experts are considering the increased importance of air purifiers in indoor spaces, where the air is 2 to 5-times more polluted than outside.
While cleaning surfaces is still important, cleaning the air that recirculates through buildings also has a huge focus. In the midst of a global pandemic, air purifiers are potentially more useful now than ever, but they also provide a host of other long-term health benefits that all wellbeing enthusiasts should be aware of.
Digital Journal spoke with Pierre Bi, co-founder of Aeris to learn more abour air purifying technology.
Digital Journal: How does air purification assist with respiratory health?
Pierre Bi: Purer air has the most immediate positive impact on the respiratory system, both in the short and long-term. By filtering out fine particles, including up to 90 percent of dust particles, air purifiers help eliminate triggers for asthma attacks, hay fever and other allergies. Over time, using air purifiers to remove pollutants can protect you from some of the deadliest diseases. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the US held a study which found that “people living in more polluted cities had a higher risk of hospitalization and early death from lung cancer and other respiratory diseases than those living in less polluted cities.” High-quality filters can also protect you from toxic particles typically found in the home by extracting airborne asbestos, preventing mould from growing, and removing numerous other volatile organic compounds.
DJ: What are the benefits in terms ofcardiovascular health?
Bi: Impure air has also been implicated in heart disease. Cardiologist Kenneth Shafer, MD explains that airborne toxins have chemical compositions that lead to changes in blood chemistry, which in turn causes adverse health effects. Recent research found an association between air particulate pollution and carotid artery disease, a condition that can lead to stroke. Several studies have also shown improvements in blood pressure and heart rate after the installation of air purifiers. For example, one small-scale study of 35 Chinese university students found that air purifiers reduced levels of fine particulate matter by 57%, and decreased the potency of several circulating inflammatory molecules in the blood.
DJ: And in relation to immune system health?
Bi: Air pollution that enters indoor spaces is also known to weaken the immune system, according to the European Public Health Alliance. Purifiers which filter at least 99.95 percent of particles as small as 0.1 microns are ideal for immune system health because almost all virus-carrying droplets are within that range. Some experts, such as Dr. Rajat Mittal, professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, theorise that small virus-containing particles in the air may more easily produce an infection. “It could be that smaller droplets are more dangerous because they deposit deeper in the lungs, which is less protective to infection,” he says. For immunocompromised people, air purifiers could provide peace of mind and additional immune system support.
DJ: Mental health issues are also connected, how would you interpret this?
Bi: A growing body of research suggests that impure air can also inflict lasting damage on mental health. One of the more ominous recent findings is the proposed link between PM2.5 dust and cases of mental health disturbances in young children that are serious enough to send them to the emergency room for psychiatric evaluation. A 2019 report published in Environmental Health Perspectives studied short-term exposure to PM2.5 dust in over 6,800 children up to 18 years old who were sent to an emergency department at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for symptoms considered psychiatric emergencies. These symptoms included suicidal thoughts and adjustment disorders.
In a 2011 study published in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found not only that PM2.5 exposure may have made it harder for mice to learn new tasks, such as how to get through a new maze layout, but also that mice exposed to heightened PM2.5 showed classic signs of depression – they gave up more quickly during difficult tasks and lost interest in simple pleasures they used to seem excited about, such as getting a sip of sugar water. The mice who had been exposed to commuter levels of pollution had significantly more cytokines in their brains – one of the biggest contributors to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
DJ: In the work context, what are the implications upon productivity?
Bi: Having understood the implications of poor air quality on mental and physical health, researchers are now studying what this means for productivity. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, health conditions caused or worsened by poor air quality can increase absenteeism and hamper academic performance in school-aged students. The same pattern is also true for worker productivity. A 2017 study from the IZA World of Labor found that improvements in air quality have led to significant increases in worker productivity. It was also understood that poor environmental quality reduces worker wages in settings where pay is based on performance.
The relationship between long-term good health and pure air is still being explored in scientific studies, but there is a wealth of evidence supporting the use of air purifiers for maintaining respiratory, cardiovascular, immune system and mental health, all of which is essential for leading a happy and productive life.
More about air purifers, Air, hepa filter, Clean air, coronavirus
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