What You Need to Know about Smog Exposure and Your Health

What You Need to Know about Smog Exposure and Your Health

Jul 1, 2023

As the recent smog pollution from the fires in Canada continues to affect the East Coast, we understand that you may have concerns about its impact on your health. At OWM Integrative Wellness, we are dedicated to providing you with the necessary information and recommendations to mitigate the harmful effects of smog exposure.

Let’s start by defining smog. Smog pollution is a combination of smoke and fog. The smoke can arise from industrial exhaust or forest fires. As it rises into the atmosphere, it mixes with water droplets and creates fog. This toxic fog can be carried for hundreds of miles, leading to widespread pollution.

What Are the Dangers?

 It is important to be aware of the known health hazards associated with smog pollution:

1. Respiratory problems: Smog pollution consists of particulate matter and may contain ozone, both of which are extremely irritating, inflammatory, and toxic to the lining of the lungs. This can cause or exacerbate respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

2. Cardiovascular effects: The pollutants in smog can enter the circulation and create toxic and inflammatory issues in the blood vessels. This poses a significant risk to individuals with existing cardiovascular problems, increasing the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.

3. Allergies, allergic reactions, and autoimmune diseases: Smog pollutants can trigger inflammation in the body, leading to the release of histamine. This can result in symptoms similar to seasonal allergies, as well as skin irritation and rashes. In individuals with autoimmune conditions, the inflammatory response can trigger severe exacerbations of their typical symptoms.

4. Reduced lung function: Prolonged exposure to smog can lead to long-term respiratory problems, including a reduction in overall lung capacity and oxygenation of muscles, organs, and the brain. This can result in decreased physical performance, impaired cognitive function, and a shortened lifespan.

5. Increased risk of infections: Smog pollution weakens the immune system and inflames mucous membranes, making individuals more susceptible to infections of the lungs, sinuses, and even the bladder.

6. Developmental and reproductive effects: There is evidence that prolonged exposure to smog can lead to low birth weight and premature birth in women, as well as higher infertility rates for both men and women.

Who Does This Affect the Most?

When air quality alerts indicate a higher risk of exposure, it is typically the more vulnerable individuals who need to take extra precautions and stay indoors, even if pollution levels are relatively low. These vulnerable groups include people with heart and lung conditions, compromised immune systems (such as autoimmune conditions, HIV/AIDS, and cancer), as well as the frail and elderly.

To help mitigate the risks of exposure to smog, we recommend the following measures:

Activity:

  • Wear an N95 quality mask when spending more than 5 to 10 minutes outside during high levels of pollution.
  • Keep the windows of your home and car closed and run the air conditioning with recirculated air.
  • Avoid exercising outside during low to moderate exposure, as increased heart and respiratory rates can accelerate the absorption of pollutants.

Nutritional strategies:

  • Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet by avoiding or minimizing high-carbohydrate and sugary foods, such as processed flour products, pizzas, bagels, doughnuts, and artificially sweetened beverages.
  • Increase your intake of green leafy vegetables, fish, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least 30 ounces of water per day.

Detoxification:

  • Engage in indoor cardio exercises to induce sweating, aiding in the elimination of toxins.
  • Consider using an infrared sauna for 45 minutes, 2-3 times a week, as it can support detoxification.
  • Intermittent fasting, such as a 24-hour fast, can also enhance your body’s natural detoxification processes.

Antioxidant support:

  • Supplement with antioxidants to counteract the inflammatory effects of pollutants. At OWM Integrative Wellness, we offer high-purity concentrated supplements that include milk thistle and dandelion root to support liver function and toxin elimination.
  • Our recommended antioxidant supplements include N-acetylcysteine (NAC), vitamin C, quercetin, and berberine, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress caused by smog exposure.
  • For more vulnerable clients, we provide intravenous (IV) infusions of these antioxidants and intravenous ozone infusions, ensuring optimal absorption and effectiveness.

Please note that these recommendations are general in nature, and we highly recommend consulting with one of our healthcare professionals for personalized guidance based on your specific health needs and circumstances.

At OWM Integrative Wellness, your well-being is our utmost priority. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us at 716.626.6301 or request an appointment online at owmintegrativewellness.com/. We are here to support you in maintaining optimal health, even in the face of environmental challenges.

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