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When Fresh Air Isn’t

  • April 1, 2011
  • 6:01 pm

“Everyone should try to minimize their exposure as much as reasonably possible,” says Edelman. Breathe easier with these strategies:

Get moving in the morning.

Ozone is generally lowest at this time, from roughly 6 a.m until 10 a.m., and it rises throughout the day as sunlight breaks down the hydrocarbons of auto exhaust, turning it into smog.

Replot your route.

Find ways around the busiest thoroughfares. A street with traffic that zooms past will be less polluted than a congested road that has cars idling at stoplights, their emissions hanging in the air. If you can’t avoid high-traffic roadways, plan your workout so your hardest effort comes at the least congested part of your route. If you live in a city, hit the park.

Avoid the worst offenders.

Stay away from high-pollution scenarios altogether, such as parking lots and marinas with idling diesel vehicles (trucks, buses, boats) and areas where a forest fire is burning nearby. Yard equipment such as lawn mowers and snow or leaf blowers also spew fumes you don’t want to inhale, so try not to be downwind of them, says Thurston.

Embrace the breeze.

“The worst pollution days are usually the hot, stale days of summer,” says Greenbaum. Windy conditions often make for better air days because the breeze disperses pollution, reducing its concentration.

Eat your antioxidants.

Getting the recommended daily dose (75 milligrams) of vitamin C, particularly through foods (e.g., broccoli, spinach, oranges, and tomatoes), may help your lungs resist pollution-related damage, says Thurston. Vitamin C reduces free radicals, lowers the production of inflammatory histamines, and helps boost glutathione, a detoxifying agent that aids cells in dealing with carcinogens and heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

Blow hard.

At your annual physical, ask your doctor to assess your lung function using spirometry, a test in which you’ll blow into a measuring device. What to watch for: “A trend over time indicating any adverse changes from your previous visit,” says Thurston. Remember, exercise is still the best way to keep your lungs flexible and in top shape.

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Rodale is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice.


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8:00PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011


2:31PM PDT on May 24, 2011

It's 5/24 and I'm catching up on Care2 emails again. Been pretty busy lately. And have pollution symptoms in lungs. But usually am indoors. And have windows open a lot, trying not to use a/c a lot because have heard that refrigerants in them a problem. Refrigerants like in them mess on air, and cause temp of it to warm? And when you run a/c's globally to stay cool, if this manage to heat air while a/c in use, it tragedy with global warming problems. And had apt. shut tight not long back, but got whiff of outdoor air before heavy rain cleansed it. Have had persistent dry cough, dry and/or scratchy throat, think maybe third symptom too. Not getting out much to exercise, or doing much physical activity indoors either. And do believe in antioxidants, but can't afford much food on low doles. Do try to keep good multiple supplements in me at least. And had forgotten to take C for a while. Maybe it help to start again tonight.

6:59PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Air is crucial, thanks!

2:54AM PDT on Apr 14, 2011

The air pollution angers me so much, I'm happy I don't live in a state with a lot of smog, because there's no way I'd stop going outdoors. I appreciate the fresh air I do get so much, as should everyone, because who knows how much longer we'll have it.

6:55PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

Thanks for trying to help.

5:42PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

Boo to air pollution

11:33PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

thanks for sharing

10:32AM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

Thanks for the antioxidants tip! I will be eating my broccoli going forward!

For business owners who want to reduce their carbon footprint and air pollution, check out my company, Greenzu. We provide commercial solar without any upfront cost. Just buy the clean electricity.

2:18PM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

I never gave this very much thought, so now I know. Thanks Rodale.

8:16AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

I used to live at the very edge of our city meaning after our neighborhood was farms now it has grown around us and more traffic and the air smells of car exhaust (yuk) my daughter has asthma and she is coughing more also we drive a hybrid but everyone else doesn't

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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