Air Pollution Solutions – Give Your Body a Boost

Pollution is high right now, and everyone is feeling the burn in their lungs, the tickle in the throat and tightness in the chest.  It’s understandable to feel out of control and hopeless that you can’t do anything except breathe toxic air.

Air pollution is generally measured on particle size: large particles are called PM10 and smaller more toxic particles are called PM2.5.  According to Air Info Now, ‘PM2.5 travels deeper into the lungs and because the PM2.5 is made up things that are more toxic (like heavy metals and cancer causing organic compounds), PM2.5 can have worse health effects than the bigger PM10.’

Air pollution can be very serious, especially for vulnerable portions of the population like children, the elderly and those that exercise.

There are a few apps for your mobile that keep you informed.  China-wide site AQICN has a page devoted to Hong Kong (Air Quality Index -AQICN).  Here you can check various parts of the city and the site clearly details if the air is ‘good’ through to  ‘hazardous’.  Download the app for your respective mobile or device for readings on-the-go.

The Hong Kong government also provides the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).  This index is based from 1 to 10+ with 1 being low and 10+ serious.  The SCMP provides the app based on the AQHI measurement.  The warnings on the AQHI site appear to be more cautious regarding individuals who should take caution.  The Hong Kong Clean Air Network is another site where you can read extensive information about specific pollutants, keep track of pollution levels in your area and also compare charts and graphs over time.

So, what can you do to support your body during high pollution days?

1.  Drink plenty of water.  Water is essential to helping your body flush out toxins and chemicals.  And when your lungs are working overtime, your body will need the extra help.  Add a squeeze of lemon for an antioxidant punch of vitamin C.  Studies suggest supplementing with additional vitamin C may provide additional protection to vulnerable lungs.

2.  Greens:  Anything green is especially good when your body is trying to work hard.  Organic sources of dark leafy greens contain low pesticide residues and high vitamin and mineral content.  Foods high in glucosinates are known to prevent cancerous cell growth.  A study published in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that a drink made with broccoli sprouts can even help the body more efficiently excrete the common pollutant benzene.  Researchers go on to suggest the broccoli sprout beverage provides a defensive layer by bonding with benzene compounds for excretion.

3.  Antioxidant rich foods:  Choose fruits that are rich in antioxidants like blueberries and cherries.  Vitamins A, C and E as well as selenium provide protection for your lungs and your body when fighting airborne toxins.  So, grab your favourite fruits and veggies and snack away!

4.  Exercise:  Exercising on high pollution days can be an unhealthy combination.  It’s important to protect your lungs from serious damage, especially from the deep breathing of small particles whilst exercising.  Breathing through the nose allows for shallower breaths and mucous and hair to trap particles. What about exercising in rooms with an air filter?  There are some brands that filter out PM 2.5 particles such as the Alen Air, IQ Air and some Philips models, and can make it safer for you to continue your exercise regime.   Check your gym if they have an air filter and if they are maintained for optimal operation.

There is a lot about air pollution that we cannot control, but there are many aspects we can.  Take care of your body by getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, eating foods that support your organs for processing pollutants and using an air filter.  On days with good air quality, make sure to deep breathing exercise including walking, running, yoga, and meditative breathing to suggest a few.  This will help clear the deep lung tissue and support cell renewal.


For more Healthy Living Asia insights into wellness and health in Hong Kong, visit the HK HUB’s healthy living section, which has ideas and inspiration on a range of topics. To join the ‘Healthy Living in HK’ Facebook community, contact


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