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Clean Air Month

Take a deep breath and smell the trees and spring air. May is Clean Air Month. Clean air has a natural balance of gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. The Clean Air Act started in 1970 and has been successfully reducing air quality related to premature death and health conditions.

The four key climate change that impacts the influence social determinants of health includes: rising sea levels and flooding, extreme temperatures, extreme natural disasters and weather along with air quality and pollution. Social determinants of mental and physical well-being can make a big difference depending on the quality of life and health. Some examples of this could be access to nature or neighborhood safety, or availability to local healthy foods. Almost 4 out of 10 people live in a place that pollution levels are too dangerous to breathe safely.

The University of Washington found that higher levels of air pollution have a greater impact on mental health. Air pollution is associated with behavior changes because people spend less time outside which creates a more sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle can be related to social isolation or distress.In 2016, there was an environmental research review that concluded even though more research is needed exposure to air pollution has an increased risk of autism.

Rush University Medical Center researchers studied the cognitive (the brain processes such as remembering, reasoning, and thinking) effects of air pollution. The most dangerous kind of air pollution is fine particulate matter because it is smaller, found in motor vehicle exhaust, along with the public transportation exhaust such as buses and trains. Smaller particles infiltrate the body which gets into the lungs then into the blood system. When this matter is inhaled, attaches to the nerve endings in the nasal cavities, then it travels to the brain.

These are things we can do to help control or prevent air pollution: reduce car usage; keep your vehicles well-maintained which reduces harmful exhaust emissions; avoid burning candles, at home; say no to plastic or reduce, recycle, reuse; plant more trees and grass to limit bare soil areas which reduces dust in the air; and quit smoking.