Does Air Pollution Hurt My Lungs? (with Brady Scott, PhD, RT)

Your Doctor Friends

Does Air Pollution Hurt My Lungs? (with Brady Scott, PhD, RT)

June 27, 2023

Does Air Pollution Hurt My Lungs? (with Brady Scott, PhD, RT)

Breathing. You’re doing it right now. You’re gonna do it about 22,000 times today. We sometimes take it for granted. Certainly when our breathing is labored, it’s all we can think about. 

The health effects of air pollution remain a public health concern worldwide. Exposure to air pollution has many substantial adverse effects on human health. Globally, according to the WHO, 7 million deaths annually are attributable to the joint effects of household and ambient air pollution.

How do we know if the air we are breathing will harm us? With the recent wildfires in Canada, and the dramatic, even shocking images of the NYC skyline looking blood red from smog and wildfire smoke, our respiratory health has been even more present in the media. 

How do our lungs defend themselves? How can we help them? Can we practice preventive habits to give our lungs the best chance possible? 

Thankfully, meaningful research exists to provide helpful data on how to protect our lungs from environmental insults, whether they’re inside our homes or floating on the breeze.

Our expert today is Brady Scott, PhD, RT!

Dr. Scott is the program director for the respiratory care program and associate professor in the Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Rush University. He has been a respiratory therapist for more than 20 years, with clinical practice experience in adult emergency/critical respiratory care.

Key highlights in this episode include:

A concise explanation of how our lungs work, and how exposure to chronic irritants/pollutants effects those vital functions.

What are different kinds of indoor and outdoor air pollutants?

How can we measure those pollutant levels?

Do air purifiers help?

Is vaping as bad as smoking?

How can we protect our lungs from indoor and outdoor inhaled pollutants and irritants?

Who is at highest risk?

Dr. Scott recommends the following resources to learn about respiratory health: gives you a quick Air Quality Index in your area!

The American Lung Association website,

Harvard’s Indoor Air Quaility Study.

The EPA’s site on Air Quality Data.

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(Disclaimer: we will not answer specific medical questions or offer medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional with any and all personal health questions.)


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