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You probably don’t often think of air quality until something big happens like a wildfire or bad air day warnings. For myself, air quality was a big topic when we were stuck indoors for days due to forest fires. The air quality was so bad we could barely see the park trail up the hill from us. If you live in the Pacific Northwest or California, you probably also remember this. 

What does air quality have to do with autoimmunity and detoxing? Well, since we breathe about 3,000 gallons of air each day, it seems like a likely contributor to our toxic load don’t you think?  As I’ve mentioned here toxins absolutely contribute to the development of autoimmune disease. Particularly when our toxic load becomes too much for our body to effectively detox it. 

Happily, since the creation of the Clean Air Act, air pollution has slowly been improving.  But has it improved enough? 

In this video, I share three indoor air contaminants that impact your health and how to reduce them.

 

Besides oxygen and nitrogen, the air can include a number of human made pollutants (which include heavy metals, petroleum, hundreds of chemicals), ozone, dust, pollen and molds. I’m going to dive into the top 3 indoor air pollutants –  Fine Particles, Molds and Carbon Dioxide. 

Fine particles

These human made chemicals are typically not easy to see. Though if you live near a busy road or freeway, you’ll likely see a layer of fine black dust along your window ledge inside and even coating your home on the outside. Fine particles become inhaled and enter our blood stream adding to our toxic load. Some of the health impacts of these particles can;

  • cause your eyes and nose to burn
  • contribute to asthma
  •  irritate airways
  • decrease your lung function
  • increase blood clotting and risk of cardiovascular disease
  • cause developmental and reproductive harm
  • make you susceptible to infection
  • trigger skin cancer and cataracts

Molds

Mold is literally everywhere in our environment and often in our homes. In fact, the Air Quality and Autoimmunity Connectionlatest stat is that 25% of homes in the U.S. have black mold. 

So, where would you find mold?

  • Water damage in your home – ie moldy drywall, framing  
  • Bathroom
  • Shower head
  • Under sinks – particularly if a pipe was leaking
  • In basements
  • It can attach to any surface in your home such as drapes, carpeting, your dog…
  • Circulating in your forced air system

Mold, or specifically the mycotoxins that it produces,  can wreak havoc on our body. This is especially true if you’re of the 25% or so of people who don’t produce antibodies against toxins. Then it just sticks around in your body until you treat it. Mycotoxins can cause some really difficult to diagnose symptoms that are nonspecific. This is what makes it such a challenge to diagnose.

Symptoms of mycotoxin exposure can include:

  • Brain fog
  • Trouble focusing
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Joint pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Headaches
  • Red eyes and blurred vision
  • Sinus issues
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Gut issues and appetite changes
  • Weight loss issues
  • Night sweats
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination 

If you like to learn a bit more about molds, be sure to check out my blog post Are You Suffering From Toxic Mold?

Carbon Dioxide 

Carbon dioxide is often overlooked in terms of air quality and it’s a little outside the realm of adding to our toxic burden, but it can have a big impact on our daily health.

Outdoor CO2 levels are currently at just over 400 ppm. But it’s the indoor air quality that’s a bit more concerning at 800 to even 1000 ppm. 

When indoor concentrations of CO2 levels increase to 800, it can cause fatigue and  headaches. This makes it more difficult to focus and be in a good mood. If it’s over 1000 it can start to cause nausea and migraines making the idea of being vibrant and healthy a far off dream. 

Happily, I have some simple solutions for you to help improve your indoor air quality and reduce your toxic load.

How to Improve Your Air Quality 

  • Dust often – Dust attracts particulates from outdoors like little magnets! Be sure to dust often with a damp cloth and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. 
  • Take your shoes off at the door – When you wear your shoes indoors, you track in not just particulates but also oil from the leaky car outside, some dog or other animal poo, you get it, then it gets all over your floors and then all over you while you’re playing on the floor with your kiddos. 
  • Determine if you have a mold problem and then remediate –  There are a couple of ways you can check for mold. 1. Visually confirm or 2. Test. Next you need to remediate if you find mold. This can include ripping out drywall or framing, or it may just require some heavy duty cleaning. You can read my blog on mold here to see more specifically how to remediate. 
  • Open the windows – To reduce CO2 levels, open windows every day and run a whole house fan if you don’t have outdoor air coming in through your air system. If you don’t have a whole house fan, you can use your bathroom fan or just open additional windows for a cross breeze. 
  • Air filters – Next Consider a really good quality air filter. I use Air Doctor for my home, it’s somewhat large but it has a built in sensor that can detect fine particulates as well as molds. 

To sum up, air quality is important when we look at reducing our overall toxic load so we can put our autoimmune condition into remission. You can do this by taking small steps in improving your indoor air quality. Keep and eye out for the rest of this series because I’ll be covering 6 more topics to help you to keep moving towards your health goals!

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter for more healthy living and autoimmune reducing tips I don’t share in my blog. Signing up is easy! Just enter your name and email address in the form at the right column of this page.

References:

https://iaqscience.lbl.gov/cc-wildfires

https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/particulate-matter-pm-basics

https://www.airnow.gov

 

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