Podcast 341: Purifying Your Air Quality

Martin Pytela and Scott Paton discuss a huge factor in your health that few people consider: The Air You Breathe!

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SCOTT: Welcome, everybody! This is the Life Enthusiast Podcast, restoring vitality to you and the planet! I am Scott Paton, and joining us, as usual, is the health coach at Life Enthusiast, Martin Pytela! Hi, Martin! How are you doing today?

MARTIN: I am actually doing good, Scott. Last time we connected, I was the one that was a little off, and I am noticing that today it is your turn to have your tongue a little less agile! (laughing) I am guessing it is not your best day, right?

SCOTT: Yeah, it is weird! I’ve said this introduction well over 300 times, and today for some reason it is just not going so well! (laughing)

MARTIN: I have those moments, we all have those moments and I am thinking that there is a flare of some sort, right? I don’t know what it is, it could be sunspots, it could be your last meal, something that is affecting you. It could be something as simple as you breathing something that is just wrong for your body.

SCOTT: Right! It is interesting, it could be something that has not affected me before, and for some reason, it does affect me today. Maybe something is in the air. And that is what we are talking about today. Right now I am in Skopje in Macedonia, it is a beautiful city, it is been conquered by the Greeks, it used to be a part of Yugoslavia before Yugoslavia broke up, it was a part of the Roman empire, it is ancient, and it is fascinating walking around because you can see some very old, beautiful buildings.

MARTIN: Let’s just put some cultural references in here! Macedonia is a really, really ancient proud nation, that kind of got melted into the nothingness of history. But Alexander The Great, one of the greatest movers and shakers of the ancient world, was from Macedonia. Did Mother Teresa come from there, too?

SCOTT: Yes, Mother Teresa was born here! There is a huge square in Skopje, and in the middle of the square is a huge fountain, on top of the huge fountain is a massive horse, and on top of the massive horse is Alexander The Great. And next to it are four pieces of stone with a plaque that says: This is where Mother Teresa was born. There is no house, just a flat stone with a plaque, but close to the square, there is a Mother Teresa Memorial place, it actually looks like a house, but it is not, they have pictures of her there, there is lots of history here. Lots of world-changing people come from here. And in the 1960s there was a very bad earthquake, and a lot of the old buildings were destroyed. I keep saying the word huge, but everything here is massive! There is a huge fort up on the hill that oversees everything, and they are repairing things from that earthquake in the 1960s, so it is over 50 years ago, and they still haven’t fixed it. There also was a communist time, so everything was built the communist way, straight walls, little windows, and what they are doing now is they are putting a new façade on everything so that it looks like ancient buildings again. So some buildings look old and ancient, but some look brand new, so it looks kinda weird and funny, but it is kind of interesting how they have gone about doing things.

MARTIN: When I was growing up, Macedonia was like the backwater of the backwaters. I would have never dreamt of going there. Polish people have a beautiful expression for this, which can be translated as “dog’s blood and cholera.” (laughing) Back then, it was far from interesting, it was not a country you would want to visit.

SCOTT: Yeah, but the city is beautiful, there are old markets and bazaars, they are packed with fresh produce. Strawberries are in season right now, and they are just delicious. So I’ve been wandering around and taking in all the city, this modern part that tries to look ancient, and also the really old part. There is an old museum, and it was destroyed in the earthquake, and you can see they left it as a memorandum of the earthquake, and it had a big clock tower, and the clock still shows 5:20, because 5:20 was when the earthquake hit and the clock stopped because of the earthquake. This area has a lot of water. There are many areas around the city where they have problems with water, but in the city, they have all the water they need. 

There are mountains around the city, so Skopje is in the middle of a valley, it is kind of protected. But, unfortunately, in the wintertime there is an inversion, and all of the smoke, the dust, the smog, stays above the city, and it accumulates, and it can be really awful. All the smoke gets into the air and then it doesn’t dissipate, there are no winds to take it away, so it just hangs in the air. My tour guide said that in winter, she gets into a car and drives three blocks to the store, because she just doesn’t want to walk and expose herself to this air, and she has an air filter at home, so she recognizes the problems that are linked to long term exposure to bad air. Good for her, but there are hundreds of thousands of other people here that don’t see this, and they are going to have problems later on.

MARTIN: I’ve encountered this in multiple places. I have lived in a small town in British Columbia, and British Columbia is a whole bunch of valleys between fairly tall mountains, so this is classic. In the winter, you get this low-lying cloud cover that just holds everything down, and of course, you get inversions. I remember when I lived in Invermere, 2400 feet above the sea level, and you can just drive for 15 minutes toward the hill, climb up to somewhere around say 5000-6000 feet, and you are above the clouds! It is just gorgeous, sun, blue sky, and everything. But if you stay low in the village, you don’t see sunshine for weeks, even months, from October to March. And in the small town, a lot of people just cut wood and burn it in wood-burning furnaces, and it is quite dirty, it puts out a lot of particulates into the air, and it stays there, and it stinks.

Back in the Czech Republic, where I am originally from, when I was growing up, everybody was burning coal, the cheap brown coal that has that sulfury smell when you burn it, and it puts out a lot of this pungent odor into the air, and a lot of particulate matter, too. So during the inversion, everybody is just choking on it. And after 1989, they started converting to earth gas, natural gas, and they were buying that from Russia. And then Russia started doing their trickery, and all of a sudden it started to get expensive. So people started switching back to coal, and it was just horrible to go back from the clear sky and clean air, to this pungent choking air all winter long. Anybody who has at least a little bit of breathing issues, asthmatic, or just weak in the lungs, would suffer greatly.

SCOTT: You reminded me of my adventures in rural British Columbia, where I was in a town called Prince George. We had this valley with two rivers meeting there, and there were three or four pulp mills that were strategically placed to maximize the amount of smog that would stay in the city. So when you were walking along on a beautiful day, you could see this wave of clouds coming towards you, and then it would just envelop you like in a horror movie, and it has this sweet, sickly smell. And of course, people always said that was the smell of money, because the three pulp mills were the engine of the economy there. And I would say things like: “this is going to be bad for you!” And they said: “Oh yes, it is very bad, but we have the world’s best cancer clinic in town.” That is how they dealt with it. “We have so much cancer here, that they put this big, brand new cancer clinic here, instead of Vancouver because we need it more,” and blah blah blah.

MARTIN: It was like they were proud of it! “We are proud of our cancer clinic.”

SCOTT: That is right! It was horrible. This was 20 years ago, they have gotten cleaner and they have worked on it since, and I am not paying attention to it anymore, so I don’t know what is the situation now.

MARTIN: I can tell you what probably happened! People started using the internet, so there is way less demand for pulp because the pulp is the stuff that you turn into paper, for books and newsprint, especially newsprint. The demand is going down and down, pulp mills are closing, nobody cares, nobody needs it anymore. But then there are no jobs! When you close the pulp mill that used to employ 500 people, those were 500 unionized, decent jobs. When you take these 500 jobs out of the economy, it really takes out probably 2000 people out of the community! I saw the statistics for British Columbia. Small towns up there in the Interior that depended on the extraction economy, either wood or lumber, are shrinking. The large cities, such as Vancouver, are growing because there are opportunities in the new economy. So everybody wants to be in a large city, in the new economy.

SCOTT: Yeah, and I don’t think it is just in British Columbia. This is happening in India, this is definitely happening in China, all around the world. People in these small cities are thinking: ”I don’t want to live like this anymore, I’ll go to the big city, and hopefully something good will happen.” But in big cities, we have even greater concentration of more things that can cause massive problems compared to a small city like Skopje or Prince George. We have the rubber from the tires, that is wearing off, this very fine dust from brake pads, that gets right into the lungs.

MARTIN: Yes, we have all of this industrial stuff going on, whether it is a refinery, heating systems, chemical factories, or whatever else. Even when you walk into a store, something like Costco or Walmart, a place where they sell everything from soap to tires, the air in the store just hits you like a wall. I personally can’t stay there for 15 minutes without feeling like it is oppressing me and taking me down, and I just have to get out of there, I can’t breathe. And that might be because I am spoiled because I am breathing clean air where I live.

SCOTT: Right! Once you get used to clean air, clean environment, you get really sensitive to it, whether it is water, food, air, clothing… I actually thought of another thing. A lot of times people talk about indoor pollution being just as bad as outdoor pollution. Oftentimes in a home, the carpet is giving off stuff, or the walls, the paint on the walls, we have mold there, heavy metals, plastics, and so on. I am just waiting for them to ban those fluorescent light bulbs that have taken over. I don’t know if this is true, but I have heard that if you drop one of these things, they basically have to seal the room, get the hazmat suits, and you can’t go back into your house until they’ve cleaned it up.

MARTIN: It is true, that is what they do, I mean, it is overkill, but it is true that it is filled with mercury vapor.

SCOTT: This also reminded me of when I was in a hotel once, and the little lamp in the room had a fluorescent light bulb, but it wasn’t working. So I called and told them, and this handyman guy came in, and he’s fiddling and fiddling, and I was just sort of watching him, and after about 10 minutes he gets it out, drops it, it bounces onto the tabletop, and then it bounces to the floor! But I had a really good reaction, so I caught it, it landed in my hand, and he looks at me, with this like frozen deer-in-the-headlights fearful look, because if the thing had broken, I don’t know what we would have done! Maybe he would have just said: “no worries…,” but I caught it.

MARTIN: (laughing) No, that would have been a hazmat event.

SCOTT: 40 years ago, when I was working part-time in a grocery store, we had fluorescent lights, we had hundreds of fluorescent lights on the ceiling, and they were not working. So we got these massive ladders, super tall, we had to climb up and take them out, put them in the garbage bins, and we smashed them! I don’t think anyone realized there was mercury in it. And that was inside the store! So for 20 years, all the mercury that was in the air from all of these fluorescent light, we are all breathing it in!

MARTIN: And now you are wondering why your liver shut down.

SCOTT: Yeah! And why do I have so much gray hair, I am only 32! (laughing) I don’t know, I have never been checked for liver, I mean mercury, I should go and do that.

MARTIN: Yeah, maybe there is a lot of mercury in your body. There is definitely something going on for you today! This is what a person feels like when they have been glutened. What you are exhibiting are the signs of a flare. Leaky gut, leaky brain. Something goes off, and you just can’t get it right. A classic symptom of the brain fog is mixing things up. For example, you will say: “hand me the broom,” but you meant the vacuum cleaner. And when it gets worse, you can’t come up with names of things or people. What’s the actor’s name? You can’t think of the name of the person that you know you know, but can’t recall it. Anyways, this weird thing that is going on with you right now, something happened, you have been exposed to something, and it is showing. You need to detox, you need Zeolite and fulvic acid to get out of it!

SCOTT: I have fulvic acid and humic acid, and I’ve been taking it throughout the day.

MARTIN: Hopefully, it will help you dig out of this soon! So back to the air conversation! Indoor air quality is a huge issue. There are off-gassing things in the carpet, for example. My daughter lived in an apartment, where her window was just above the roof, where a vent coming out of a restaurant was blowing all of the air out of the restaurant, and she happens to be gluten sensitive, they were blowing pizza dust on her all the time. Who would have known that when you are renting an apartment, this is what you are going to get into? One of my customers called me just last week and was saying: “these guys in the apartment next door to me, they are making some stuff, there are smells coming out of there, maybe they are cooking drugs, I don’t know what they do, but there are these toxic smells, and when they are around, I feel a lot worse than when they are not.” The only solution I can think of is either move away or get an air filter. Those are really the only two options. We have really great filters from a Canadian company called Airpura, they make a number of filters, they are specializing in different applications. If you have an automobile shop, you have certain types of chemicals coming out, like hydrocarbons from the exhausts, that sort of stuff. If you are a smoker or live with smokers, you need a different set of parameters, you have different chemicals that you want to deal with.

SCOTT: The idea of looking at specific situations and saying: “oh, we make the filter that is great for this situation specifically,” that is a great idea!

MARTIN: Right? If you have an office that is a part of an automotive shop, and you are just getting exhausts from that, and who knows what else is blown at you all the time, we have a filter for that. We have a filter made for a healthcare clinic that deals with pathogens and antigens and that sort of stuff. There are seven models, each one of them focuses on different environments, some are less expensive than others, but in most situations, you get what you pay for. You can buy a little pocket filter for 200-300 dollars, but that is not going to do the job in the automotive shop, you need to go serious there. You need to understand the size of the place, and the capacity of how much air you need to rotate. If you have a one-bedroom apartment, you will need something different than someone with a three-bedroom house.

SCOTT: Right! Some of the things that are floating around in your air could be dust, pollen, little droplets, mold spores, asbestos, tobacco smoke, airborne chemicals including formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, all the different types of glue… this is the indoor pollution, we buy all these chemicals, we need glue to fix something, a cleaner to clean something, but it stays in the air, it is floating around the house.

MARTIN: And it gets worse than that, Scott! I just watched a documentary about the Siberian tiger. The Siberian tiger population is declining, because his habitat is disappearing, and the reason it is disappearing is that in Eastern Russia, they are cutting down forests in Siberia, illegally, loading the timber  onto trains, and shipping it to China. In China, they will turn it into laminate flooring, and the laminate flooring is then sold to America for a very low price. So you get yourself a sweet deal on this laminate flooring, that was made in China, and it is loaded with formaldehyde. The glue is poisoning the people that are working on it, but it also is off-gassing sufficiently over time, so it is poisoning the people that put it into their houses. So, maybe nature knows how to do it, in your process of killing the tiger, you are going to kill yourself. And the solution? The guy says it in the movie: you need to protect the tiger, you need to enforce the law in Russia, but first and foremost, you need to stop buying crap that doesn’t even comply with local safety rules. These things are sold to the United States, but nobody is checking the safety. And it is cheap, it costs a third or a half of what you would expect to pay for quality flooring made in the US. When the price is way down, it is because somebody did something not right.

SCOTT: Yeah, you reminded me of the story of the lead paint in toys, that were made in China, and shipped to Walmart. And the poor Chinese guy says: “well, you know, Walmart insisted on this price, and the only way we could get this price was to use that paint.” And if he didn’t do it, somebody else would have done it.

MARTIN: Absolutely, and this is the thing, the Chinese get the bad rap for it, and I feel bad for them because they simply deliver what the purchasing agent is demanding. If you want quality, they will deliver you quality, but for a price. If you want cheap shit, pardon my language, they will get you that. But at the end of the day, it is us, the consumers with the wallet, who are dictating what is or isn’t going to happen. When I make my choices, I buy organic food. I don’t buy industrial crap. I do not. Period. But many of my clients are telling me: “I cannot afford this stuff,” and I understand it because they are in a job that does not pay them well enough. It is the poor people that are competing with other poor people for the shitty jobs that are depressing the wage.

SCOTT: And then it is the consumer who is not paying attention, who is buying something that is made in factories using child labor, in Bangladesh or someplace else, and so it continues. When you go to the farmer’s market, and you get to meet the farmer, you find out how they are actually growing the carrots that you are eating, and how they are caring for it, then you realize that you don’t mind spending a dollar more for those carrots because you know it is grown with care and love, the proper way.

MARTIN: There is this lower end of the market, that is very competitive, where you just don’t get paid better, and you only have so much to spend. And of course, we now have this stupid competition for real estate, for apartments, for houses, where everybody is pricing everybody else out, so we are now pricing each other out of decent living. But that is a topic for another day, maybe.

SCOTT: Thank you for listening to our ranting today, everybody! This is Scott Paton…

MARTIN: …and this is Martin Pytela for Life Enthusiast! Make sure to visit our website, check out the Airpura filter options, or call me directly! My number is (866) 543 3388! This is Life Enthusiast podcast, we are restoring vitality to you and the planet! See you next time!

Note: this interview and the information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your medical professional(s) if you are dealing with a specific medical issue.

Author: Life Enthusiast Staff