March 1, 2020
As the Coronavirus continues to spread, more people are stocking up on hand sanitizer, staying home sick from work, avoiding unnecessary travel, and doing everything the Center for Disease Control (CDC) begs us to do every flu season with newfound dedication.
Whatever your quest to remain germ-free entails, you can’t afford to overlook air quality. Below, we’ve outlined three key environmental factors that can weaken your immune system and increase your vulnerability to infection.
There’s a reason why flu season always occurs in the wintertime. It’s the same reason why some health experts are wondering if the Coronavirus will show similar seasonality, with a decline in the number of cases during the summer and resurgence in the early fall.
Research indicates that Rhinoviruses, the leading cause of the common cold, survive and spread more efficiently at lower temperatures. This may be because Rhinoviruses replicate better at cooler temperatures or because cold, dry weather enables the virus to remain infectious outside of the body for longer.
A cold weather-induced runny nose can also increase your susceptibility to infection. When your nose is running, you touch your face more frequently and increase your risk of transmitting a virus from a contaminated surface into your nasal passageway. Habitually blowing your nose can irritate your skin as well, bringing the capillaries closer to the surface and giving viruses more direct access to your bloodstream. As if this wasn't enough, frigid outdoor temperatures force us to spend more time indoors, where close contact and contamination is more likely.
That said, winter isn’t the only time when temperature should be on your mind. As spring approaches, be mindful of your thermostat and resist the urge to over-air condition your home and office when the summertime heat sets in.
Low humidity is the second reason why winter is synonymous with cold and flu season. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air, so outdoor humidity levels naturally drop alongside temperature. Indoor heating systems exacerbate the problem by drying up what little moisture is left inside our homes, offices, and other public spaces. Researchers believe that low-humidity environments help viruses like the flu linger in the air for a longer period of time, thereby increasing the risk of exposure and aiding outbreaks.
In one compelling CDC study, researchers used “breathing” and “coughing” mannequins to simulate how influenza is spread and test how humidity affects transmission rates. When indoor humidity levels were low (23 percent), 70 to 77 percent of the flu virus particles that had been “coughed” into the air were still infectious one hour later. When airborne humidity was increased to 43 percent, only 14 percent of the virus particles were still infectious after one hour. In fact, higher humidity levels caused most of the flu virus particles to break down and become inactive after just 15 minutes.
The takeaway? Being mindful of indoor humidity levels — especially during seasonal changes — can help you stay healthy year-round. Investing in a good humidifier can also reduce airway irritation and help keep shared spaces more sanitary.
Many studies have confirmed a link between ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) and chronic conditions like asthma and eczema. For people who have a genetic predisposition to certain conditions, air pollution can serve as the environmental spark that causes these genes to be expressed.
Even if you don’t have a preexisting condition, chronic PM2.5 exposure can affect the overall health of your immune system. Studies show that high PM2.5 exposure can cause chronic airway inflammation and increase your risk of developing a respiratory infection as well as other long-term complications.
Elevated PM2.5 levels can also enhance the body’s natural allergic inflammatory and immune responses. This overcompensating function can eventually lead to allergic sensitization (i.e. allergy development).
Although you can’t change outdoor conditions, you can take steps to improve your indoor environment and keep your immune system healthy. Awair Element tracks temperature, humidity, PM2.5, carbon dioxide (CO2), and toxic chemicals (VOCs) and gives you the insight and guidance to improve your indoor air quality.
To learn more about Awair Element and how it can help you take action when it matters most, follow the link below.
Getting your family ready for the new school year can be bittersweet, and as you drop your child off for their first day of school, it’s easy to feel anxious about whether or not you’ve prepared them for success in the upcoming year. Even if you were able to get them everything on their back-to-school shopping list, you know your child’s ability to learn and grow depends on what happens once they enter the classroom--but what if it turned out their classroom was hindering their productivity and overall health?Unhealthy classrooms are much more common than we realize, and one of the main culprits is hiding in plain sight: the quality of air children are breathing in their classrooms. Many of us take for granted that the air we’re breathing is healthy and safe since it’s not something we can typically see–but this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, our ability to concentrate, the quality of our sleep, and more. Particularly “unhealthy” or “bad” air can even cause a variety of health problems, including dry skin and eyes, coughing and sneezing, headaches, hives, and nausea.
Do you plan on traveling for the holidays? Or maybe you’re looking for a place for family that’s visiting to stay? The holidays can be an overwhelming time, so it’s important to choose accommodations that won’t add any additional stress.
It’s spring cleaning time, and there is one “spot” you probably missed during your cleaning routine: your air. It’s easy to forget to make sure the air in your home is clean and safe, since air is--literally--out of sight, out of mind. Cleaning your air should be on your spring cleaning checklist, though, since indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outside--affecting allergies, asthma, concentration, sleep quality, and much more.