Scientifically Speaking: Clear the Air

139690427Most of you already know that the USANA Home Office is located in Salt Lake City, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the coolest places, ever. What the city — and the state of Utah — is most commonly known for is the winter season and the one-of-a-kind, powdery snow that comes with it.

Trust me, I’m actually going somewhere with this.

I just thought it would be nice to open with something awesome about our winter season, because I’m about to dive into a not-so-pleasant topic: the winter inversion.

Not familiar with what an inversion is? Well, let me put it this way — for about a quarter of the year, the air quality in Salt Lake City is about equal to the quality of a vitamin purchased at your local supermarket. Yeah, it can be that bad.

This got me thinking about studying the impact of poor air quality, thus leading me to the conclusion that my trusty Scientifically Speaking readers might enjoy discussing the topic as well.

The Dreaded Inversion

First, let’s talk about what an inversion is, in meteorological terms, that is. Normally, as you reach higher altitudes, the air gets colder and colder, right? When an inversion occurs, it’s sort of the opposite. Colder air is trapped near the surface by a pocket of warmer air above called an inversion cap.

This happens in my wonderful city of Salt Lake, because we’re surrounded by those beautiful, snow-capped mountains. Because of this, not only is the freezing cold air trapped beneath the inversion cap, but all the dust, smog, and other pollution is trapped as well. This severely decreases the air quality and is known to cause or worsen respiratory problems like allergies and asthma.

I should mention that inversions aren’t exclusive to Salt Lake City. They’re common in many cities across the world such as Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Vancouver, just to name a few.

153143930There’s Nowhere to Hide

It looks like I need to become a complete shut-in and board up my doors and windows for the winter, right? Wrong! Surprisingly enough, I discovered that the air situation could be even worse in your own home.

If you’re facing pollution issues where you live, think about how it’s impacting the air quality inside. Homes being built these days are sealed tighter and tighter, and pollution from outside is being pumped inside and concentrated with fumes from the hundreds of toxic products we use on a daily basis.

That’s right. The paint on our walls, toxic glue holding down our carpets, and chemical fragrances from our hygiene and cleaning products have nowhere to go, creating even worse air conditions.

Breathe Easy

OK, so let’s talk about what we can do about all this. First of all, we can’t really do anything to stop the inversions, but we can definitely take steps to help the situation. Almost all of these steps involve being conscious of our transportation methods.

Whenever possible, you should carpool, walk, ride a bike, telecommute, combine your errands into one trip, and use mass transit. And when it comes to driving, try to choose an environmentally efficient vehicle, frequently change air filters, and keep tires properly inflated.

As far as the air situation inside your home, there’s a pretty simple solution: crack the windows. It doesn’t cost a thing, and keeping a nice flow of air through the home every now and then work wonders when trying to clear out those harmful chemical fumes (for more on this kind of stuff, check out The Healthy Home website).

And last, but not least, make sure to get away from the pollution whenever possible. Escape your house or the city life by going on a hike or hitting the ski slopes. It helps you get some fresh air, especially in higher altitudes where you can rise above the inversion and fill your lungs with crisp, clean air.

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1 reply
  1. Diane Ferland
    Diane Ferland says:

    Such an amazing synthesis of a complicated problem. Most of all you bring simple every day solutions that we can apply. I will do a third reading of “My Healthy Home” book and give some copies as Christmas gift.


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