Air Quality from a User’s Standpoint

Posted on November 09, 2015   |   

This is a guest blog post from Jim Nelson, an individual living with COPD.

Prior to the major miracle of a lung transplant, I had emphysema and chronic bronchitis, also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. That means that my lung capacity was only a fraction of what it should have been, given my age, weight, etc. The measure of lung function is a major factor in the diagnosis of COPD. I should have been able to expel about three liters of air in a second. My tests revealed that I was only blowing out about 6/10 of liter, or 21% of normal.

“Jim It also meant that my respiratory system was super-sensitive to air pollution in any form. That included things such as particulate matter dust, carbon monoxide, and ground level ozone. Ozone at ground level can be a very bad thing, especially for those of us who have enough trouble breathing without any outside interference! Sunlight and hot weather combine with auto exhaust, gasoline vapors, industrial emissions, and chemical solvents to form harmful levels of ozone.

Many urban areas tend to have high levels of “bad” ozone, but even rural areas are subject to increased ozone levels because wind carries ozone and the pollutants that form it hundreds of miles away from their original sources. As our population ages and the effects of tobacco use damage more and more lungs, it will become even more important to concentrate on improving the quality of our air.

Despite our best efforts, bad air will tend to find us. We owe it to ourselves to shy away from smokers, to stay indoors on bad air days, to wear a surgical mask if we are exposed to pollutants. Roll up the car windows and use the air conditioner if the outside air is loaded with dust or smog. If you are exposed to dust or pollen or the like, a shower before bed is a good idea.

What advice can you offer to others living with COPD when it comes to managing bad air quality? What are some things you do?


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