You may have heard the term “air pollution is invisible” which was first told by Dr. Gary Fuller (if I am not mistaken), but apart from the fact that the composition of the pollution is made from tiny particles and gases that are not visible to the naked eye, I think the real reason is different.
People forget easily, and even when they see stuff, repeatable patterns get canceled out by the brain. A clear example are perfumes. When you wear the same perfume over and over, you lose the ability to smell it. Another example is the smell each house has as the owners/occupants of the house are unable to smell it. Visitors, on the other hand, can and sometimes is very potent.
I believe the same thing happens with air pollution. When you expose yourself to the same pungent odors (e.g nitrogen dioxide) because you go to work or school every day, your brain becomes familiar with the odor and it cancels it out. Same thing with wood burning smoke, as I have encountered people that live inside clouds of wood smoke which doesn’t bother them. Eventually, their lungs/heart cannot cope anymore and they die prematurely.
Another reason air pollution is invisible is that the majority of people lack education in order to see the problem. Scientifically speaking air pollution is a very complex topic that involves knowledge in chemistry, physics, statistics, and more. It is not expected for people to have this kind of knowledge and this is the reason we have to communicate the impact it has on human health in simple terms. Environmental education has to come from the early stages of school education which is absent in most countries, even the developed ones.
Sensor technology has allowed us to see the air we breathe yet many public/private organizations are scared of the information we collect and share. Accurate information is a powerful tool. Inaccurate, or the absence of information, is dangerous.
Believe it or not, there is a lot of misinformation about air pollution. For example, wood stove pellets do not produce air pollution nor CO2! This is what the industry of wood burners tells people. Pure lies.
I will close this article with a question, are you allowed to breathe clean air?