Health Hotline Magazine | August 2022

at least SEVEN MILLION DEATHS are a ributed to air pollution EVERY YEAR.

Air Pollution is a Killer Here’s How to Protect Yourself.

According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2022” report, the state of our air is… well, it’s not very good. Between 2018 and 2020, the U.S. had the highest number of “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality days than it ever has in the 20 years the report has been published. It also found that more than 40 percent of Americans live in places with failing grades for unhealthy levels of particulate pollution or ozone, and that “People of color were 61% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one pollutant, and 3.6 times as likely to live in a county with failing grades for all three pollutants [measured].” Pollution levels in many areas of the United States exceed national air quality standards for at least one of several common pollutants, including fine particulate matter, ground- level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead. These pollutants carry with them a number of health risks beyond lung disease. Some of the health issues associated with exposure to air pollution, especially long term, include stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease; dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, impaired cognition, and mental health issues in children; increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth; reduction in bone mineral density; kidney disease; and a reduction in life expectancy. Fine particulate matter, commonly found in smoke (an ever- increasing problem with the recent increase in wildfires) and emissions from power plants and vehicles, is of particular concern for health because it can penetrate body tissues and organs, “posing an even greater risk of systemic health impacts.” This fine particulate matter has been implicated in cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and neurodegeneration and dementia.

By Lindsay Wilson

Natural Grocers ® | 11

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