Air Pollution and the Elderly
Air pollution affects everyone in different ways. It is not simply a concern for the younger and relatively healthy person.
The effects of air pollution on the elderly can turn a mild discomfort into a chronic and/or fatal condition.
One of the strikes against older people is that they have been breathing in various contaminants longer than younger ones. The quantity of pollutants over the years carries a cumulative effect. Some people may have worked or lived in relatively clean areas and not been subject to as much pollution as others, but the older a person gets, the dirtier their lungs are. The dirtier the lungs, the more they are prone to respiratory problems.
One of the other factors at play here is the weaker immune systems of most elderly people. As the body gets older, all its systems become weaker. Hormone levels drop, and healing takes longer. Bacteria already being struggled with become increasingly more aggressive in their attacks on the body.
The weakening of the body’s natural ability to filter out pollution and dispose of it means that it will begin to affect the lungs and heart. This is one of the major reasons why, when the pollution index is up, the elderly are warned to stay inside. It has not taken too many studies to show that when the pollution levels are higher than normal, emergency room visits by seniors increase.
What Can Be Done To Eliminate or at Least Diminish These Concerns?
The first thing is, of course, being aware of health concerns the elderly have that can be made worse by whatever level of air pollution is outside. Hay fever can be handled through many over the counter medications. However, COPD and emphysema are another issue. Most air advisories, as noted, are accompanied by announcements requesting the elderly and children to stay inside. This could be a good opportunity to spend some quality time inside, enjoying relatively cleaner, healthier air.
The EPA, however, has stated that inside air can be as much as 70% dirtier than outside air. But technology has given us the ability to clean this air with appropriate systems.
There are any number of air filtration systems that will remove a lot of the visible particulates that you see floating in the air. Which one you get is up to you, but a HEPA filter equipped system is great at removing particles that you can’t see, and these can be the allergens and pollutants that really afflict the elderly.
Another great filtering system is one with carbon activated filter media. It is good at removing foul odors and most gaseous chemicals that many filters, including HEPA ones, do not. The HEPA filtering media, a relatively expensive one, combined with the carbon activated system in one unit, will take care of dust, dirt, allergens and any odors and do this at an efficiency level of about 99.97%. Selecting the right one and following all of the manufacturer’s instructions, as far as positioning and filter changes, will be your best defense against a bad air day.