Air Pollutants Get Into the Body via the Skin

While lungs remain the main way by which air pollutants get into the body, and, if in sufficient quantities, cause ill-health effects, a new study shows that certain pollutants (‘semi-volatiles’ like phthalates) can be drawn in by the skin. This effect is known as ‘dermal uptake’ and the levels absorbed can be equivalent to those drawn in through breathing via the lungs.

Source: Air Pollutants Get Into the Body via the Skin

For the curious, here’s the peer reviewed source.  Time to break out the plastic bubble …just make sure it’s BPA free 😉

The study confirms we can (and do) get air pollution via osmosis.  There’s been news in the past about inhaling exhaust changes the expression of our DNA.  Those face masks some people wear?  It’s really only a courtesy as an attempt to minimize spreading what they already have.  Between the grade of mask and fit (no beards!), most consumer grade stuff isn’t worth wearing with respect to limiting your exposure.

Consider stocking up on snake plants and peace lily’s, because they remove 14 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air in significant amounts.  FYI though: they’re toxic to cats.  HEPA filters won’t help with VOCs.  If you keep your windows shut to maximize the effectiveness of a HEPA filter, you may have higher VOC levels inside.  Activated carbon filters may help, but they’re of limited value. Most “consumer grade” AC filters foul with dust very quickly. you’d need an industrial AC filter (one that periodically heats itself to recharge the AC) for it to be really effective.  Of course a lot depends on your home environment. Do you have a lot of new plastics around? Did you paint recently? Are there people using a lot of cosmetics, hairspray, deodorant, shampoo, etc? I wish there were an inexpensive tester for common VOCs. So far I have not been able to find one.

Study Confirms that Smoking Causes Emphysema

…due to incomplete combustion of insoluble nanoparticulates of carbon.  The longer you smoke, the worse it gets.

Many people who pass away from severe emphysema are found, at the time of autopsy, to have black lungs. The discoloured lungs are most strongly associated with people who have smoked heavily or worked in certain industries.

Source: New Study Confirms The Lethal Effect Of Smoking

Why is this study is important?  We knew that the black stuff was carbon and nanoparticles are bad, but we weren’t quite sure how much of emphysema was from poisons in the smoke, and how much was from immune cells that ingested the carbon particles (and the underlying mechanisms).  But it would make diagnosing smoking as the cause, and assessing overall health risk from smoking easier… But because of the way the tobacco industry operates, and the limited restrictions placed on it, it probably won’t help many people until it’s too late, but this data can be used to possibly find ways to combat some of it’s harmful effects in the future.

Inhaling smoke from any burning organic matter is likely to be just as hazardous.  Puff, puff, pass on that 😉

What About Diagnosing with X-Rays?

X-ray scans only differentiate between atoms, not molecules. This is because the energy is so high (in order to penetrate through the body) that “molecules” aren’t even visible to the x-ray (it has a small interaction cross section), only individual atoms can block them.

India’s Air Pollution Is So Bad It’s Causing Lung Damage in Kids

We gradually learned that Delhi’s true menace came from its air, water, food and flies. These perils sicken, disable and kill millions in India annually, making for one of the worst public health disasters in the world. Delhi, we discovered, is quietly suffering from a dire pediatric respiratory crisis, with a recent study showing that nearly half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have irreversible lung damage from the poisonous air.

Source: Holding Your Breath in India

The horrors of Charles Dickens didn’t go away, they just moved to other countries.  Inhaling exhaust will change the expression of your DNA

How We Learned Chlorine Gas Is Not An Effective Cold Remedy

Depends on how you define “effective” 😉

We know that chlorine is incredibly dangerous if inhaled. It destroys lung tissue, causing people to asphyxiate on their own pulped lungs. It was used as a weapon in World War I, and soldiers were terrified of it. .So why did a US President and a good chunk of Congress get gassed with it as a medical treatment?

Source: How We Learned Chlorine Gas Is Not An Effective Cold Remedy

That’s like how Marie Curie discovered radium – her note book now is kept in a lead box because it’s that radioactive.  We’ve made some great discoveries, but there have been some mistakes to get there.

How Does Lung Capacity Increase?

Alveoli are the sites in our lungs where oxygen moves from the air to the blood stream.  You can do things like smoking, which damages the alveoli to give you bigger open spaces with less surface area. Less surface area means less efficient. Things like diabetes, or high blood pressure, can cause the space between the alveoli and the blood vessels to increase, making it harder for oxygen to diffuse across and decrease efficiency.

You can’t increase alveoli/surface-area because your lungs are already packed full of them. Thus, you can’t decrease diffusion distance because the space is already as thin as it can be. You can’t increase total volume of your lungs because their size is limited by your ribcage.

The best you can do is just avoid things that make them worse. However, you can increase efficiency of the cardiovascular system which works with the lungs.

There are other things that effect the total picture of “increase stamina” such as increasing stored glycogen in the muscles or increasing one type of muscle fiber and decreasing another type of muscle fiber that is better suited to the activity you are performing (such as for long distance running you will increase Type 1 muscle fibers and decrease Type 2 muscle fibers).

TLDR: Your body becomes more efficient. The blood cells that carry oxygen work better after doing cardio for a while.

How does compare to trying to increase time you can hold your breath?

Holding your breath isn’t the same as cardio. You feel the need to breathe when you have too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in your system, instead of not enough oxygen.

You can train your mind to ignore higher levels of CO2 to pretty absurd degrees.  Another trick is to hyperventilate 3 times before holding your breathe. This rids your body of more CO2 than usual, allowing you to hold your breath for a longer amount of time.

Your lungs never really expand past peak capacity, your body simply uses the air more efficiently.