I have been monitoring air quality indoors and outdoors for a long time now but sometimes when the air quality is acceptable and good we forget the value of having air quality monitors inside and outside the house.
On October 4th, a neighbor of mine decided that it was time to start burning garbage in an open area near my apartment and his. He was clever though, as he started burning stuff from plastic to wood at late midnight at 1:00 and 5:00 when everybody sleeps. I was sleeping too, but my air quality monitors are always monitoring the environment around me.
He did that for three nights in a row, and I was unfortunate because the weather conditions didn’t help the situation at all. No wind and no rain. The problem was that the smoke he emitted wasn’t moving at all and stayed in the neighborhood for hours. As a result, I was stuck inside with all the windows closed and CO2 concentration increasing constantly and steadily.
I knew I couldn’t do physical exercise as I will produce more CO2 so I went out to run. In an experiment I did, I was able alone to fill the 60 square meter apartment with CO2 from 600ppm to 1500ppm in 12 hours, by sleeping and working on my computer.
I was constantly watching the air quality outdoors and waiting patiently for PM2.5 and PM10 to drop to safe levels in order to open the windows and allow fresh air into the house and dilute CO2 concentrations.
I am a Greek guy who lives in Spain so I was waiting to see the reaction of the rest of the neighbors in order to act, accordingly, until I realise that they are not going to do anything as their ignorance will win the obvious move to notify one of the emergency services like the firefights or the police.
So in the morning of October 7th, I called the firefighters, the conversations was like this:
- Hi, someone is burning garbage at night, 3 nights in a row, could you please come here and put it off completely and investigate the matter?
- Is there an active fire?
- Not right now, but there are fumes and unsafe concentrations of particles in the air plus the toxic smell of the burning garbage.
- We can’t come unless there is a fire.
- So you expect me to go out with a bucket of water and have a fight with the neighbor?
- Ok, I will speak to my supervisor and we will see what we can do.
- Ok, I will be waiting for your response.
Finally, they came, and they called me, and I explained to them once more what was happening at night. I don’t think they did something, but I think the neighbor saw them, and that was enough for me because since then, coincidentally, he stopped burning garbage.
I have many followers that are fighting with neighbors about BBQs or open fires or wood stoves, and I completely understand them. Call the authorities and create noise about it, don’t take as an answer that they can’t do anything. We have the right to breathe clean air because there are laws in most countries.
Air quality monitors help us see the air and quantify pollution. They also help us mitigate pollution and manage the air we breathe like in my case, I was able to monitor the indoor CO2 and outdoor PM concentrations to make the appropriate decisions in order to ensure safe indoor air.