Many Americans wake up each morning for a run before starting their day but most don’t know how bad air quality can negatively impact their overall health. In 2014 CBS investigated that 47% of Americans are living in areas with dangerous amounts of air pollution. The American Lung Association has ranked Utah on the list of states with poor air quality the 7th worst in the nation, but living in an area with dangerous air pollution doesn’t mean you have to ruin your lungs.
Lungs at Risk in Bad Air
So, how can your morning run be harmful? By being exposed to a prolonged amount of air pollution you can put yourself at risk for asthma and experience enhanced symptoms of coronary artery disease. Poor air quality can lead to an increased risk of cancer, arthritis, and is even linked to depression. Lung irritation may be a common symptom as small particles get stuck within the lungs.
During the winter months the inversion causes many Utahns to question the air quality as many can visibly see the pollution lingering in the air, however, most don’t know that poor air quality can go unnoticed in the form of ozone which can be present even on clear sunny days. Although ozone helps divert destructive UV rays from the sun in the upper atmosphere, near the surface ozone can cause irreversible lung damage.
Keeping your Lungs Healthy
Your lungs are not only extremely important but also incredible organs capable of repairing and cleaning themselves. Tiny cells known as macrophages clean particulate matter out of the lungs in the period of a few hours when exposed to pollution; this is the reason why smokers don’t immediately suffocate after smoking a cigarette. Over time the body produces less macrophages causing complications for you and your lungs.
Although air quality may be bad experts say it is still important to stay physically active outdoors. At times Utah’s air quality may be bad but thanks to the brilliant minds of John Yoon and Steve Packham, creators of the myAir mobile app, there is a way to get your morning run in while keeping your lungs healthy. The myAir app is a new mobile application that focuses on improving your lung health while also keeping you in the great outdoors! The myAir app relies on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air reporting centers located throughout the United States. The app uses recordings of particulate matter and dangerous surface ozone from the EPA centers and calculates with information provided by the user (age, activity level, respiratory symptoms, ect.) how long it is safe to be outside per hour without causing harm to your lungs and overall health.
The myAir app is extremely easy to use and the user can determine how long they should be outside in under a minute. If the user doesn’t like the amount of time the app considers safe the user can adjust their exertion level accordingly.