Originally published on the Flo website
Some sources of air pollution are unavoidable, whether you live in urban regions or the country. Dust, smoke and chemical fumes or pollutants from cars, trucks, construction, factories, farms and bushfires are hard to avoid wherever people live. Even on a smaller scale, people can be exposed to second hand smoke from cigarettes and tobacco products.
Health professionals, especially here in Australia, are particularly concerned about bushfire smoke because of the combination of chemicals it can contain. These fires aren’t just burning trees but they are also destroying homes, cars and many commercial and industrial facilities, all of which can contribute their share of toxic gasses and particulate matter to the burning vegetation.
As a result of additional smoke in the air, even healthy people who are exposed may experience short-term respiratory problems, eye irritation, a sore throat and coughing. However, for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, it can have a bigger impact on their health and quality of life.
Inhaling smoke and pollutant particles can impact any person; young, old, healthy or not, so it’s important for every person exposed to take precautions. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
The particles floating in the air can be defined by their size. Large particles are defined as those about 10-20 microns in size. Small particulate matter is measured as 5 microns, and ultra-fine particles are even less than that.
Studies on airborne pollutants have shown that while breathing through the nose, about 90% of particles that are 2-20 microns in size are deposited in the nose and its associated structures.
Given that most of the time people tend to breathe through their nose, it’s important to note that smoke and pollutant particles inhaled this way can remain lodged in the nose (and its associated structures) for a few days.
And during mouth breathing – for example, during or after exercise or activity – 95% of particles that are 10-20 microns in size can be trapped in the large airways leading to the lungs.
Diagram 1: Inhalation of particles through the nose and where they travel
An effective way to help clear particles from these areas is to wash them out regularly, i.e. each morning and night.
By using a large volume isotonic saline once or twice daily, a significant amount of the particulate matter inhaled can be cleared from the front of the nose to the very back of the nose (nasopharynx) and the sinuses.
This cleansing action, using a large volume of isotonic saline, can help clear and remove irritants or particles lodged there and can also help reduce inflammation in the nasal and sinus tissues.
A saline nasal spray like Flo Nasal Mist or Flo Saline Plus can also be helpful when you’re out and about, but using a sinus kit like Flo Sinus Care is more beneficial because it delivers a larger volume of solution and can reach those areas that a saline nasal spray can’t, as demonstrated by the images below.
Diagram 2: Saline nasal sprays only reach front of the nasal cavity
Diagram 3: A sinus wash reaches both front and back of nasal cavities and sinuses
(See A and B below where particles can get lodged)
Even a large volume wash like Flo Sinus Care can be used in children as young as five or six years of age, as demonstrated here.
All Flo saline products are preservative-free, isotonic and gentle enough for daily use.
Important note: Always seek health professional advice, if your health is impacted by bushfire smoke or pollution inhalation.
Always read the label. Follow instructions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
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