Winter means staying cozy, wrapping yourself in a blanket, and cuddling with your pet away from the cold, winter air. You might be away from the cold, but you might in danger of breathing stale air.
When we think of poor air quality and smog alerts, our minds usually think of hot summer months when the air is thick and muggy. Although summer smog does affect air quality and triggers respiratory issues, it’s not just a summer problem. Winter smog actually can be two times worse.
Winter Air Quality
The ever-increasing negative effects of global climate change due to burning inordinate amounts of fossil fuels, polluting the ocean, and forest fires includes altering atmospheric diversion. Normally, when there are pollutants in the air, the wind disperses them amongst air particles evenly, essentially diluting the pollutants before they reach the ground.
In the winter, this is made worse as more and more pollution continues to concentrate and increases in concentration due to a lack of air available to mix with it. This creates an uneven atmospheric dispersion and more polluted air sinks to ground level. The cold winter air sinks to the ground and traps this smog in the air we breathe.
Improving Indoor Quality
Indoor air quality decreases during the winter since cold air prevents people from opening windows to allow fresh air in. Air and heating systems aggravate this problem with stale air that increases allergens such as dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander. Since all are odorless, poor air quality is hard to detect and also causes fatigue as well as affects digestive issues.
How to Improve Home Air Quality
The goal to improve your air quality is done by reducing or removing air contaminants (allergens) from your home. This can be done with practices like:
- Making your home smoke free
- Vacuuming rugs and carpets at least twice a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter
- Opting for hardwood or ceramic floor over wall to wall carpet
- Regularly cleaning bedding, drapes, and other items or furniture that attracts allergens
- Using dust mite proof covers for pillows and mattresses
- Managing clutter before dust settles
- Keeping plants outside since plants can attract mold
- Dealing with water damage immediately
- Using the exhaust fan while cooking
- Using plastic boxes with lids over cardboard boxes for storage
- Changing your air filters regularly
- Using home air quality products
Breathe Easier and Breathe Better
Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, states that, “the true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs.” The major components to smog are fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and, sulphur dioxide – most of which causes health issues among the global population. Long-term exposure to polluted air can cause lungs to age faster, which makes them work harder to transfer oxygen to the rest of your body. Make sure to keep your air clean!