The Respiratory System and Contributing Factors to Lung Health

Illustrated image of heart and lungs

In our modern world, we exist in cities and towns containing poor air quality no longer safe for us, our animals and our Ozone layer. More than 100 million Americans are currently living in areas with air quality deemed unhealthy due to surrounding air pollution. Though we now enjoy a wealth of science-backed understanding of this topic, many are still left uninformed about what exactly air pollution is, how it affects the lungs, and what common side effects poor air quality can lead to.

What Is Air Pollution?

There are two known types of air pollutants we currently associate with poor lung health that also cause environmental damage. The first one being Ground Level Ozone Smog (commonly referred to as Smog) while the second is Fine Particulate Matter. Let take a more examined look into each of these pollutants.


Smog is the product of a chemical reaction formed between volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs and nitrogen oxides (NOx) while in the presence of natural sunlight. VOCs turn into vapors and gasses such as vehicle engine exhaust, while NOx gases are a byproduct of a combustion reaction such as nitrogen and oxygen. Vehicle fuel combustion is the main cause for the overwhelming levels of NOx smog we experience in our atmosphere. These two vapors make up the majority of ground-level ozone and are manmade air pollutants which, unfortunately, have very harmful effects on humans, animals, and our natural environment.

Fine Particulate Matter

Commonly referred to as “soot” this fine particulate matter is made up of minuscule particles and droplets in the air that are also a product of auto and diesel exhaust combustion. Fire and wood smoke, as well as power plant emissions also contribute to the creation of soot.  This soot is what we see when the outside air appears to be hazy, opaque or unclear. Soot can also reach high levels under the same weather conditions as smog.

How Does Air Pollution Affect the Lungs?

Now that we understand what air pollution consists of, it’s important to examine how exactly these vapors, particulates, and gases affect our lung health. Our lungs are an extremely sensitive bodily organ, therefore, breathing in harmful air pollutants daily can have a lasting effect on our lung health and their ability to function properly. These irritations can disrupt internal airways and for many, can cause excessive coughing, shortness of breath, prolonged chest pain, as well as the development of asthma. This exposure increasingly puts humans at risk for developing serious health issues such as lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and in extreme cases, premature death.

Despite progress in recent years, air pollution continues to be a serious environmental and health problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declares poor indoor air quality as among the top 5 environmental risks to public health. This is why healthy indoor air quality and consistent HVAC maintenance is key in securing a safe indoor environment for you and your family.

The Good News

One of the silver linings of this viral pandemic has been an unprecedented decrease in air pollution. Major contributing factors include the sudden halt of large industrial factory use of which are known to off-gas harmful vapors. In addition, reduced vehicle use, and the stagnation of the airline industry have also had large effects. With travel bans and isolation mandates in place, people aren’t flying, driving, consuming to the same degree, which has all had a significantly positive impact on our air quality. We hope that going forward after this crisis, citizens and industries across the globe will recognize how much our daily habits and behaviors affect the planet. This novel microscope into our human impact may foster greener, more sustainable efforts, and personal awareness that could be the climate change solution we’ve been searching for.

How Can I Protect Myself From Air Pollution?

While difficult to control outside environmental conditions, you do have the opportunity to maintain a safe and healthy indoor atmosphere. For those suffering from preexisting conditions such as lung cancer, sensitive lungs, and allergies, small triggers such as poor indoor air quality can have extremely harmful effects on overall lung health. Hire quality HVAC Contractors to do routine maintenance and cleaning on your systems to maintain great indoor air quality. Another area a residential HVAC company will check is your home’s indoor humidity levels. These levels should exist somewhere close to 50%. High humidity encourages the growth of mold and microbes which can cause major respiratory complications such as threatening asthma attacks and ceaseless irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Too low a humidity level is known to cause dry eyes and painful sinus issues. During these weeks or months of indoor quarantine, ensure you and your family can exist in a healthy indoor environment by staying on top of all your HVAC needs. With the help of a seller HVAC company, you can create an indoor sanctuary of clean air everyone will enjoy.

At A/C Control, the leading Los Angeles Commercial HVAC company, we provide top of the line service for all of our clients, no matter the project size or limitations. Safeguard your family against the flu and allergy season during this taxing time by scheduling a technician visit from us at A/C Control. We provide quality at a cost that you can agree with! Visit our website for more information or call us at (310) 907-8277 to book an appointment for your commercial HVAC needs.

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