Smog is a serious issue of environmental pollution. The major cities of Pakistan have been facing the presence of smog and its adverse health effects for the last many years. Respiratory issues are the major outcome of smog. Doctors Hospital and Medical Centre (DHMC) provides a comprehensive range of respiratory health solutions. This article is also published in this regard to help readers protect their lungs from smog in the best way possible.
What is Smog?
Smog is a mixture of smoke and fog. It is caused by sunlight, hydrocarbons, nitrogen compounds and other industrial waste chemicals in the form of burning coal, automobile exhausts etc. Because of different causes, the smog generated is divided into two types: Classic smog and Photochemical smog. Both types are dangerous for human health because they take in dangerous particles with breathing and cause complications on a long-term and short-term basis.
The smog caused by the combination of smoke, fog and sulphur dioxide is known as a classic smog. It occurs in the humid climates. Burning coal is one of the primary factors to cause this Sulphurous or London smog. Pakistan and India face this smog during the winter season.
The other type of smog, which is also commonly known as the Los Angeles smog, is the one caused by smoke-emitting vehicles. When the particles of nitrogen get mixed with the atmosphere, the photochemical smog arises.
Health Risks Associated with Exposure to Smog
Smog is a typical form of air pollution. For the last many years, Pakistan has been facing this climate problem. As a result, when a dark brown blanket covers the sky, many people with ailments and health problems have been witnessed. The WHO also declared air pollution as a ‘Human Carcinogen’. Due to air pollution, which also includes smog, WHO reported 6.5 million deaths globally.
Smog particularly can result in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and, most commonly, respiratory issues. According to the research, as the air quality index (AQI) gets worse, the population is more exposed to inhaling the dangerous elements available in the air.
As a result, smog irritates our airways when it is inhaled, raising the risk of lung and heart problems. Because of these health risks, smog levels are monitored in many cities. A high ozone alert day in the US, for instance, can cause burning in your eyes and throat, coughing, and wheezing. Let’s explore the health risks caused by smog one by one.
Respiratory Diseases are a serious type of problem associated with the functioning of the respiratory system. There are certain infections which can make the breathing process difficult.
Any person, especially those with a weak immune system, is more exposed to these respiratory infections and diseases. Children and older people are more at stake. The breathing problem can be any from minor to major. Furthermore, long-term exposure to smog can also worsen the present medical conditions. For instance,
- Shortness of Breath
- Sore Throat
- Difficulty in Deep Breathing
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Cardiovascular Disease
According to studies conducted by EPA and others, exposure to elevated Particle Pollution from Fine Particulates (PM2.5) concentrations over a few hours to weeks can result in heart attacks and death from cardiovascular disease. Extended exposure can shorten life expectancy and raise the risk of cardiovascular death.
When a person is exposed to the air filled with smog for a longer time. He/ She is at the risk of developing lung cancer. Studies show that the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in 2013 that lung cancer, the primary cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States, can be brought on by particle pollution.
It is important to know that particle pollution is one of the composing factors of the smog. Therefore, it is crucial to protect our lungs from smog to avoid or reduce the health risks to the possible extent.
Importance Of Protecting Lungs from Smog
Now that we know how exposure to unhealthy air can put us at stake., It is essential to know that we must safeguard our lungs from smog while we live in areas and cities like Lahore, which are bad with smog clouds these days.
In the following, we are going to pen down the tips for protecting your lungs from smog.
Tips for Protecting Your Lungs from Smog
Monitor Air Quality
Keep a close eye on air quality. You can use the air quality index (AQI) in this regard. AQI is a point ranking system that discloses the breathable quality of air ranging from healthy to hazardous. For regular monitoring, you can use various apps and websites. Some of the websites are listed below.
In addition, you can use weather widgets on your smartphones. With the apps for air quality monitoring, you should keep an eye on smog levels to decide your day-long activity. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is available below.
Plan Outdoor Activities Wisely
Once you see the quality of air on the AQI with smog levels, If the levels are unhealthy, dangerous, or hazardous, it is better to avoid outdoor activities, especially during the peak smog hours. These are mainly the rush hours during the day.
However, if avoidance is not possible, it is professionally advised to wear protective gear and ensure to maintain your exercise routine. In the early hours, in the presence of green plants and a healthy environment, smog diminishes or reduces to the maximum possibility. If this is not the case, prefer the indoor exercise.
Use Protective Gear
For outdoor activities, it is essential to wear an n95 mask or use respirators in the smog days. It will filter the hazardous particles from entering your body through the breathing process. Ultimately, it keeps your lungs safe from damaging particles and maintains your respiratory function to the best possible extent.
Another important tip is to work on your immune system. Strengthen it through exercise, a healthy diet, proper water intake, and avoidance of smoking and junk food. Also, manage your stress levels. Unmanaged stress also weakens the immune system. Hence, mindful working on all these factors will have a positive impact on your immune system.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Another element to keep your lungs healthy is to improve the indoor air quality of your home and office. This is essential because, though you cannot control the outdoor environment, you still can purify the indoor air.
All you have to do is take the following couple of steps.
- Use air purifiers with HEPA filters
- Keep windows and doors closed on high-smog days
When you purify the indoor environment, it will provide healthy air to breathe. Also, when you keep your windows and doors closed off on high smog days, the outside smog will not be able to enter the indoors. In this way, you will protect your lungs from dangerous air-borne elements.
Doctors Hospital & Medical Centre (DHMC) Respiratory Care
For more than a couple of decades, DHMC has been providing quality medical services for respiratory problems and complications. Therefore, if you feel any disturbance in your breathing, you can visit us or call us at 042 111 223 377.
Now that we know the importance of protecting our lungs from smog, we must take precautionary measures to protect our lungs from smog by avoiding high smog, traffic, or smoky areas. Also, we must maintain our health and strengthen our immune system with the help of more water intake, a healthy diet, filtered indoor air and an exercise routine.
Lung protection is the only way to prevent respiratory issues from developing or worsening. It is also essential to take special care of the kids, and elderly, especially those who are already patients with asthma or breathing problems.