There are various different ways to measure air pollution. However, the standard uniform system typically used was developed by the United States and is known as the air quality index (AQI).1 This is the measurement used to determine whether or not the specific air quality levels in a region or location are good or bad.
Highlighted below is an overview of what is considered good and clean air, some of the negatives associated with bad air exposure, benefits of good air exposure, and how you can simulate the benefits of quality air by breathing in high-quality essential oils.
What Is Considered Good Quality Air?
Any index at 0 to 50 is considered good’quality air. This is the AQI that produces the fewest negative health effects on the general population. As you get up past 50 on the AQI scale, you start to see an increasing amount of negative health effects, especially for individuals with pre-existing respiratory issues.
Once you get past 200 on the index, this is when you start to see symptoms in those who have no respiratory issues at all. Thus, it is at greater than 200 that you begin to see negative health consequences in even healthy individuals. Once you get over 300 on the scale, you will begin to not only see health implications in healthy individuals, but it can be deadly to those that who already sick or for the elderly.
Consequences of Breathing Poor Quality Air
Immediate Health Implications
Exposure to poor quality air can have immediate health implications, even for healthy individuals. It can lead to various issues including, but not limited to, added stress to the lungs and heart, damaged cells in the respiratory system, and more.2
Long-Term Health Implications
Exposure to poor quality air can also lead to various long-term health implications like accelerated aging of the lungs, decreased lung function, reduced lung capacity, and even a shortened lifespan.
Serious Health Implications in Those Most Vulnerable
Another big issue with poor air quality is the severity at which it can negatively impact those who are already vulnerable to respiratory issues. Individuals who already have health problems become much more vulnerable, even from short-term exposure to poor air quality.
Benefits of Good Air Exposure
Fewer Respiratory Illnesses
One of the main benefits of good and clean air exposure is reduced rates of respiratory illnesses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that exposure to clean air effectively lowered adverse health effects that would normally result from hazardous air pollutant exposure and fine particle exposure.3
Relief from Respiratory Symptoms
Another significant benefit of being exposed to cleaner air is the ability to significantly reduce the symptoms that result from various respiratory illnesses like asthma. By removing contaminants and air pollutants from the air, you will be able to effectively reduce the amount of exposure that your respiratory system has, which can improve your symptoms tremendously.
How Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Can Help
In addition to trying to expose yourself to cleaner air by spending more time in nature, it is possible to expose yourself to better quality air through the use of essential oils in aromatherapy. This is especially beneficial because the terpenes—aromatic plant compounds—found in essential oils can provide a range of physical and mental health benefits.
Lavender essential oil has been shown in studies to effectively suppress allergic airway inflammation.4 Therefore if you have any respiratory issues, you will be able to effectively limit the negative inflammatory response that your system likely has from the exposure. This alone can help you minimize the health implications of these exposures on your system.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Another significant benefit that can stem from the use of essential oils through aromatherapy can be the improvement that it can offer to indoor air quality. Because various essential oils have been found to offer anti-fungal properties, the use of essential oils through aromatherapy has been shown to improve indoor air quality.5
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Simulate Forest Bathing
Another benefit that can be gained from using essential oils is their ability to simulate forest bathing, which has been shown to counteract the negative health effects of air pollution through decreased inflammation and better healing. Because a lot of people don’t have access to natural forests to experience the authentic benefits of forest bathing, aromatherapy with essential oils is the next best thing.
Overall, there is a lot that clean air can do to minimize the negative health implications of exposure to poor air quality. While the studies show that staying indoors doesn’t completely help when you are dealing with serious air quality issues in your local area, it can be much safer for those who are suffering from pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Along with this, the use of essential oils has been shown to be an effective way to not only minimize the negative health implications of poor air quality conditions, but it has also shown to be an effective way to help clean indoor air through its antifungal properties.
Pollution and the lack of good air quality are becoming a clear global concern. While there is not much you can do about exposure if you are living in an area with poor air quality conditions, using aromatherapy in your daily life can help counteract the negative health implications of short and long-term exposure.
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