Q. and A. with Dr. Kiskila- This Month’s Topic: Smog

dr. kiskilaQuestion: Dr. Kiskila, what is smog?

Answer: Smog comes from the combination of the words “smoke” and “fog” and is a form of air pollution. Smog is created by coal, gas and diesel powered engines, smoke from factories and construction sites, paint, solvents, cleaners, pesticides, and local sources like barbecues. Pollution of air that causes smog can be carried by the wind. Ozone is a part of smog and acts as an air pollutant when gases interact with organic compounds on hot days. Small airborne particles make up a part of smog when fine particles of dust, pollen and sea salt mix with liquid droplets like soot and acid.

Question: How can smog compromise my health?

Answer: Smog can be harmful to your lungs, and can exacerbate lung-related issues like asthma, bronchitis, and can decrease lung function causing cough, wheeze, or shortness of breath. Smog can irritate your eyes and nose and make it more difficult to fight off infections.

Question: Who is most at risk?

Answer: People with existing lung conditions like asthma, emphysema, COPD or lung cancer, or people who are smokers or who have decreased lung function are at higher risk for smog to compromise their health. Young children whose lungs are still developing or elderly persons whose lungs or immune systems are already weakened can be at higher risk. People who work or exercise outdoors can be at higher risk.

Question: What is the Air Quality Index (AQI)?

Answer: AQI is a rating of how clean the air is by measuring pollutants that cause smog and ranges from 0-120. Higher numbers mean worse smog and higher health risks.

Question: Can I tell if it’s smoggy visually?

Answer: The hazier it is the more air particles are present and the hotter it is, the more ozone particles are present making smog worse. Smog can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. Cough, shortness of breath and wheezing can be exacerbated by smog.

Question: Can I protect myself from smog?

Answer: Yes. Try to decrease exposure to smog by exercising indoors, driving less, and avoiding the use of gas engines, solvents and pesticides. Keep yourself healthy by staying well-hydrated when exercising and protect yourself by limiting your exposure when smog levels are high.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.