Love your Lungs Week: 5 easy steps for cleaner air

Over the last year, our respiratory health has been pushed to the forefront of our consciousness. Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation have teamed up to remind us to continue to love our lungs even though our health priorities might be changing again. 

On top of sanitising and social distancing, we have all become more aware of the importance of fresh air for good respiratory health and protection against illness. But, how fresh is the air we’re breathing? 

To find out, it’s useful to know which pollutants in the air are most dangerous to us and our lungs. Particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are the top pollutants found in the UK. Levels of these continuously change due to the number of cars on the road, the amount of energy we use and the weather.

Particulate matter is made up of toxic solids and liquids that are dangerous to us when they enter our lungs. The smaller particles (PM10 and PM2.5) are the most damaging. Nitrogen dioxide comes from vehicles, power stations and heating. When you breathe these in over a prolonged period it can become more difficult to breathe. The pollutants also irritate your nose and throat, causing pre-existing conditions like asthma and COPD to flare up.