What exactly is smog?
Smog is a type of air pollution caused by tiny particles in the air. The word comes from a mixture of the words smoke and fog and was first used to describe the hazy mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide produced by the burning of large amounts of coal in London in the early 1900s. Smog is composed of:
- Dust particles with grains below 10 micrometres in diameter, known as PM10. These particles are small enough to penetrate the lungs. They can be heavy metals, soot particles or asbestos.
- Dust with a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometres, or PM2.5. In addition to the lungs, they can also penetrate the blood. Nearly 50% of PM2.5 emission comes from domestic boilers.
- PAHs – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including benzo[a]pyrene. It is a group of organic compounds found in coal, crude oil, coke or asphalt. Benzo[a]pyrene can be found in tobacco smoke and the smoke from burning candles and trees.
Dusts and harmful substances that contribute to the formation of smog are produced mainly by human activity, especially during the combustion processes. The dirtier the combustion, the more harmful substances. For example, fuels of inferior quality or burned garbage release more harmful substances than burning gas, a relatively clean energy source.
The main producers of suspended dust are:
- Cars – there are too many of them on the roads and streets, and many of them have outdated filtration systems
- Low emissions – that is, household stoves for solid fuels, most often coal and wood.
- Industry – steelworks, coal-fired power plants or/and mines
How does it affect your health?
Smog gets into our body through lungs and eyes. It causes dry eye syndrome and even conjunctivitis.
Smog enters the lungs through breathing. It destroys the alveoli and causes lung degeneration similar to that of smokers through the presence of benzo[a]pyrene. Dust also causes sinus and respiratory diseases. PM2.5 particles are so small that they can penetrate the blood, causing cardiovascular diseases.
In Poland, 46 000 people die every year due to smog-related complications. Smokers, people with cardiovascular diseases, pregnant women, children and seniors are most at risk.
The harmfulness of smog can be compared to that of smoking. It harms the whole organism and it is hard to find an area that would not be badly affected. It causes hypoxia, coughing and bronchial diseases. A statistical Cracovian who spends 4 hours a day in the open space inhales the equivalent of 3.6 thousand cigarettes a year. This is 10 cigarettes a day. And we all inhale it.
Apart from diseases, smog influences our mood and immunity system. It causes headaches, sluggishness and symptoms of hypoxia. During smog alarms, the number of deaths increases significantly.
How to protect yourself from smog?
During the smog alarms, we should avoid going out of the house. However, we know that work and responsibilities often do not allow us to stay at home. But smog is also present in our homes as it can penetrate through micro leaks in windows. Moreover, the ventilation part should be equipped with appropriate filters.
It is important to closely follow the level of smog every day through applications such as Airly, and when you see disturbing concentrations of dangerous dusts, reach for an anti-smog mask with an interchangeable filter, such as Cristal N95 and N99 lines.
An anti-smog mask with a specialized filter provides effective protection that everyone should be able to afford. It reduces the penetration of harmful substances into the lungs by almost 99%. Symptoms such as headaches stop when you wear a safety mask. Pregnant mothers wearing anti-smog masks protect their unborn children. Do not forget about the elderly and children, as they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of smog.
Cristal N95 filter is sufficient for 1-2 weeks of use. The filter should be changed when you see that it is already slightly grey. The filters have been checked by Filter Service, which has determined the filtering efficiency of samples to be 98.7%.