WHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT FREE RADICALS? Free radicals are atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons that are highly reactive. They can bind to DNA molecules, and damage or kill cells by binding to their protective membranes. It's the same thing that happens when oils turn rancid, peeled apples turn brown, and iron turns to rust. Antioxidants protect the cells by binding with the free radicals and neutralizing them before they can cause any damage. Cell damage is the root cause of most age-related health problems. If left unchecked, free radicals may cause arthritis, heart damage, cancer, stroke, cataracts, or a weakened immune system, and may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists believe free radicals may also speed up hardening of the arteries. It's impossible to avoid all damage by free radicals, but consuming antioxidants can help reduce it. Foods are preferred over supplements. The four most common antioxidants are vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, and selenium. Vitamin E: Look to nuts, olives, avocado, wheat germ, liver, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin C: Try leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Beta-carotene: Eat more mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, spinach, kale, squash and apricots. Selenium: Seafood, beef, pork, chicken, brown rice, and whole wheat bread contain it.
SMOG MAKES BREATHING DIFFICULT: Pollution is one possible asthma trigger. Smog can make breathing difficult and can make human beings more susceptible to cardio-respiratory diseases. People already suffering from heart or lung disease are particularly affected. The two main ingredients in smog that affect human health are ground-level ozone and fine airborne particles. This includes free radicals produced by cigarettes, cars, and smokestacks.
The American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report. This report has also been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.