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  • Lior Weizman

Breathe better air

The air we breathe has a lot of impact on our health but most of us don't think about it. In this post, I will briefly describe what I do to breathe cleaner air.

The oxygen we breathe is critical to the activity of the cells in the body and quite a few diseases are directly or indirectly related to the oxygen levels in the blood (yes, also Cancer). A sucky fact is that throughout history, the amount of oxygen in the air has decreased (today it's about 21%) and if that is not enough, as time goes on, humanity releases more and more pollutants into the air. If you live in cities, near a road or near an industrial area, the air you breathe almost certainly contains some chemicals and pollutants. The pollution, by the way, comes not only from the outside, but also from inside of the house, from cleaning materials, furniture, fabrics, paints, perfumes, cigarettes, and in addition to these, there are also dust, mould and bacteria.

So what do I do to breathe cleaner air?

Let's start from the basics - breathing. Proper breathing is important, but most of us don't even think about the way we breathe! Other than some popular breathing exercises I've described on the "Breathing habits" post, I find meditation as a great way to increase awareness for better breathing. Other than being a good way to reduce stress and anxiety and increase your ability to focus throughout the day; Meditation will ensure the daily practice of breathing. I personally use Headspace which I find very useful, and I highly recommend to start with their introductory courses.

Sports and accelerated physical activities usually include deep and full breathing that is recommended to be performed on a daily level. If you are running or doing other outdoor exercise activities, try to stay away from air pollution as much as possible, or do it during hours when air pollution is lower (early morning and afternoon). It is important to mention that oxygen can also "harm" us and therefore it is recommended to incorporate natural antioxidants in your diet to allow your body to fight free radicals that are formed in the body.

Plants are considered very successful in reducing indoor air pollution. According to a NASA study, one pot per 9 square meters can significantly improve the conditions. Of course, there are some plants that are better at this than others, and as you can see in the pictures below from my apartment, I bought Areca palm, Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema), Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), Aloe vera, Common ivy, and Snake plant (Sansevieria / Dracaena trifasciata). A simple Google search will give you a longer list to choose from. ** Some will question the effectiveness of the plants and they may be right; therefore I would like to point out a study done in hospitals that found that patients with plants in their room recovered faster and even asked for fewer painkillers. So regardless of the pollution reduction, houseplants can probably do you only good.

Air Purifiers are considered to be quite effective in purifying indoor air and they differ from each other mainly in the size of the room they can purify, the physical size of the device, the type of filter(s) and whether they include a sensor to monitor pollution levels or not. Those that include a HEPA filter will filter out most of the pollutants. This is a relatively simple and old technology so I see no reason to pay too much for a good air filter and after a relatively comprehensive inspection I decided to buy two air filters of Coway. This is a South Korean company that is considered as the world leader in this field, with very good products at a fair price. If you are wondering, they are completely quiet and do not interfere with sleep. I recommend setting monthly reminders to clean their filters, as well as the AC filter.

When entering the car, make sure the AC is off and open the windows for a few minutes to ventilate the car. Dangerous levels of benzene (a very harmful chemical) are constantly being released from the plastic surfaces of the car interior. Doctors and car instructions both recommend ventilating the vehicle and avoiding turning on the air conditioner for at least a few minutes after starting the car, to avoid inhaling large amounts of benzene.

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