Clean Air – Diesel Exhaust

by Carolyn Matthews

I had a long weekend at Thistle Hill Farm two weekends ago and loved my time there. I fixed fences with young Church, visited all the herd and delivered minerals to the different pastures, and worked on some weed-eating along the fence, done the old-fashioned way in my case- with hand clippers! I loved spending so much time outside, especially the ability to breathe in deeply the (relatively) clean air on the farm.

Over the last year I have been taking an environmental health course with Dr. Walter Crinnion, learning about the ubiquitous toxicants in our air, food, and water. Even according to the EPA, there isn’t any area in this country that has pure, clean air any more, and there hasn’t been for the last 25 years.

For farmers, we are typically out in the country, which has repeatedly proven to have cleaner air than urban environments. I’m making the assumption that grass-fed beef farmers aren’t going to be using chemical pesticides, or herbicides on our carefully maintained pastures. The one thing I would caution about is the use of diesel fuel in our tractors and trucks.

Try to limit your inhalation of diesel fuel exhaust as much as you possibly can. Diesel fuel exhaust is absolutely one of the most dangerous pollutants- it contains particulate matter which is a combination of liquid droplets and solid particles including chemicals, dust, and soot. It has been associated with increased risk for sudden cardiac death, angina, heart attack; increased risk for lung cancer; increased asthma; and reduced cognitive development in both children and adults.

My recommendations: as much as possible limit your exposure to diesel exhaust; when at home have a high quality air filter in your house (consider a separate free standing unit in your bedroom), consume foods with high antioxidant levels, and consider supplementing with vitamin C, fish oil, and curcumin.

Carolyn M. Matthews, MD; Director of Integrative and Functional Medicine, Baylor University Medical Center