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When Air Pollution Is Bad, Know How to Protect Yourself

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Date: 
Thursday, March 23, 2017
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The World Health Organization reported this month that pollution and environmental risks are responsible for 1.7 million child deaths per year. Around the world, pollution is constantly taking a toll on our health – and oz one pollution is especially problematic when the weather gets warmer.

While cities and states need to implement top-down measures to combat air pollution, those who live in particularly susceptible environments – like around major roadways – may not have the luxury of waiting for such changes to take place.

Yifang Zhu, professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, says there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our families from air pollution, which has well-documented negative consequences for childhood asthma, birth outcomes, pregnancy risks, cardiovascular health, and other diseases.

Those steps include:

Understanding wind patterns. Wind changes throughout the day, helping to blow pollutants both toward and away from your home. In California, for example, the onshore and offshore sea breeze is predictable. Close windows when the wind is blowing from the freeway (or another pollutant source) toward your home. When the wind is blowing away from your home, you can open your windows.

Being aware of the time of day. As the weather gets warmer, ozone pollution – created when pollutants from cars, buses and factories react to sunlight – peaks in the early afternoon. If possible, avoid rigorous exercise outside during the early afternoon on summer days and do it another time.

Keeping your indoor air clean. Using a high efficiency (HEPA) air purifier in your house will reduce particle levels in your home, even if the air outside is heavily polluted.

 

 By Ryan Hatoum, UCLA Health