Household Air Pollution Linked to Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Researchers studying the effects of using fossil fuels such as wood and coal for cooking and heating estimate that 2.5 million people worldwide die each year for reasons related to household air pollution. One specific health concern is that these types of fuels may be causing a 20 percent higher mortality risk from cardiovascular disease. About 3 billion people use these fuels exclusively for heating and cooking, according to the University of Oxford. Researchers are urging people around the world to switch to cleaner fuels.

Your life depends on the air you breathe. Your body is so dependent on oxygen, you can go only three minutes without air. The quality of air you breathe affects your respiratory system and your overall health and, more and more, we are learning that your indoor air quality is more important to your long-term health than the air you breathe outside. In the U.S. alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states the levels of indoor air pollution can be between two and five times higher inside than they are outside, with some pollutants ranking as much as 100 times higher than outdoor levels.

Two primary sources of indoor air pollution are the materials used to construct the building itself and everything in it, including your furniture, and chemical products you bring into your home. Most cleaning products contain chemicals that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Ditto for air fresheners and scented candles, so simply deciding to give these things up can help clean up your air quite a bit.

Other surprising sources of air pollution include synthetic fertilizers that you spray on your lawn — or if you live in a rural area, the chemicals used in agricultural operations.

To counteract all these poisons in the air, airtight modern buildings need to be properly ventilated to prevent or reduce the buildup of indoor air pollution. If you work in an airtight building where fresh air isn’t an option, consider bringing an air purifier to place in your work space, and decorate your area with plants, which can help clean the air around you.

You also may reduce your exposure to air pollution by using the recirculation setting on your car while in heavy traffic, and considering nutritional supplementation, including B vitamins and vitamins C and E. Besides adding plants to your décor, one of the easiest ways to improve your indoor air quality at home is to open your windows for 10 minutes every day.

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