Fireworks are Bad New for your Body

Fireworks or pyrotechnics are used heavily to this day in many places around the world to celebrate various events. People have them associated with fan and parties, so they are not very open on hearing that they are bad for our health. Fireworks elevate air levels of particulate matter with several metallic components and gases during their explosion. Studies show that hospital admissions with respiratory issues increase during similar events all around the world.

The color of the fireworks is subject to the metals they mix, and while these metals heat from the explosive materials, they produce various color hues.

The list of the chemicals that are used is very long. I advice you to check wikipedia’s page here.

Studies have shown that the levels of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and sulfur dioxide increase rapidly during fireworks displays. People with already health problems are advised to stay away from those sources.

Although doctors and the media mention pregnant women, children, COPD, and asthma patients as the people that should take care of, I believe everyone should avoid exposure to air pollution. There is no safe level of pollution.

The PM levels can cause throat, nose, eye related problems. It can aggravate the problem in people with heart, respiratory or nervous system disorders. Fireworks can also cause severe respiratory problems like chronic or allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, pneumonia, and laryngitis.

Don’t let me start on noise and the harmful effects it has on wildlife and pets. Additionally, the standard noise level set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the ambient environment is 50 dB at night. Fireworks can be loud and can exceed 140 dB. Noise at 85 dB above can damage hearing.

All in all, it’s fantastic to celebrate a holiday with friends and family. However, fireworks are bad news for your lungs, brain, heart, and many more human organs.

Cars vs People in the USA – Air Quality

Last week was CleanAirDay. I love days like this when a collective effort is made to raise awareness of such an important problem in modern society. Most importantly the new generation of citizens is taught about the importance of excellent air quality and the dangers of air pollution.

For the past few weeks, I have been living in the US near Boston and I am still trying to wrap my head around those super monstrous vehicles people use to commute from one place to another and how towns are designed to force people to drive everywhere.

I am the only person that walks to work or to the grocery store. Literally, I don’t see other people walking here. It’s tremendous!

Every morning on my way to work I pass by a school district where a huge line of cars aligns in order to drop off their kids at school. Not only that, but when you look at the aerial photos of the school you will see numerous parking lots. It stinks too! I had to find a secondary road to walk in my effort to avoid breathing all of these notorious toxic pollutants.

Additionally, the parking area is as huge as the school. Vehicles occupy a lot of space and in most cases, only one or two people are inside. I don’t expect them to change their behavior but at least the authorities need to offer alternatives to those that care for a better world. Public transport is limited with 1 bus line every hour and at 18:00 is the last ride. On the weekend there is no commuter rail to Boston either so if a family wants to visit a museum or something they have to drive.

People are so surprised that I walk. My point is that although you can cover larger distances with a vehicle, at the same time you become more restrictive of your physical health as you end up sitting all day which is well-known as non-beneficial.

On my next walk to work, I will take with me a Particles Plus 8306 Handheld Particle Counter, which is a super accurate instrument and it can measure particles from 0.3 to 25μm, but I have to sacrifice part of my daily clean air. All for science!

A Sincere Farewell – I’m Moving on from Consultancy

Well, although this is not my last article here on See the Air, this is my goodbye to consultancy and open collaboration with other experts and companies in the field of air quality.

Even though I didn’t want to write an article about emotions because this is a blog about tech and air quality, the fact that I will have to move abroad again is emotional because I will no longer work from my Spanish office, but my new US office. I can’t wait to experience new opportunities and meet and work with new people. Lots of excitement and a big smile on my face.

I’ve always tried to answer big questions about the importance of excellent air quality and how technology can help us see, quantify, and understand air pollutants in an effort to mitigate them and ensure quality of life.

In this post, I will answer the most-asked question that I’ve ever gotten: What is air quality?
Actually, I think I have a pretty good answer for that. Air quality is a scale of colors and numbers we have invented to try to understand if the air we breathe is good or bad. In most places around the world, an Air Quality Index (AQI) is used to determine the ambient air quality. Each AQI has different thresholds for each pollutant. 

Personally, I disagree with most of the AQI out there and I have developed my own standards because my health is very important and it cannot be a subject of generalizations and the agendas of each environmental agency.

Over the years, I have taken part in various projects, in some of which I was responsible for the development of air quality monitors. Unfortunately, we often had to use over-the-counter sensors with limited accuracy and repeatability. Those low-cost sensors have offered tremendous insight into the consumer’s air quality, but it is time to bring even better and more precise measurements to the public.

For these reasons and as you can see from the image above, I am now joining Particles Plus, Inc., a company in Boston, USA specializing in the development of highly accurate particle counters.

Particles Plus offers a line of advanced-technology particle counters, air quality monitors, and environmental OEM sensors. As the most vertically integrated particle counter manufacturer and technology licensing company in the industry, Particles Plus engineers and manufactures its own counter, display, battery, vacuum pump, and sensor technology from the ground up. Added intelligence in each module results in products with superior performance, extended features, accuracy, quality, reliability, and value.

Well, everybody, thanks for reading this post. Stay tuned for lots of exciting news in the space of air quality monitoring.

Should Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles come with a permanent sticker on the back similar to the Tobacco packaging?

I think we have come to a point in time where we are well aware of the dangers internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles hide as they emit a tremendous amount of toxic pollutants that have a direct health impact on dwellers, especially in cities.

Nowadays, going to the center of a city by car is unnecessary and very impractical. However, many still insist on taking their huge SUVs even for a trip within a walking distance. Walking distance means going from one point to another no farther than 1,5 km / 1 mile or 15 minutes in time. I don’t think you will go any faster if you take your car because of all the hassle that it involves (parking, getting on board, load stuff, etc).

Schools here in Europe are within walking distances. This is the reason your kid cannot go to a school in a different district. Even then though, parents form huge queue outside of the schools in order to drop off their kids every single morning. No! It’s time to walk!

I believe cars should come with a permanent sticker on the rear side similar to the tobacco packaging in order to make people think and react. The sticker cannot be removed or covered by law. Maybe you will turn off the engine while waiting or not forcing the car to start even when new cars hibernate the engine automatically in traffic lights.

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Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Mega Guide

In this article, you will find information about everything related to particulate matter. I will focus on PM2.5 as I believe it is the most universal indicator of air quality. Almost all scientific studies concentrate their attention to PM2.5 because there is a substantial availability of monitors/sensors. Some extracts were taken from my book See The Air – PROOF THAT AIR POLLUTION KILLS.

1) What is PM2.5?

Scientific explanation: PM2.5 is a mass concentration on basis of a separation curve, where the 50% value is at 2.5μm aerodynamic diameter. More precisely, the weighting function is much steeper (100% weighting <0.5μm, to 0% weighting> 3.5μm and 50% weighting at approximately 2.5μm). PM2.5 pollution can only be seen with an electron microscope.

Plain English explanation: PM2.5 referees to fine particles with a size of or less than 2.5μm (aka micron). By the way, soot, aerosols, dust, BC are other common terms to call particle pollution.

2) What is PM2.5 made of?

It is hard to determine a specific chemical composition, however, here is a list of all the chemicals that might be found in a single particle. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (naphthalene, acenaphthylene acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a) pyrene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, and indene), metals (Al, Si, P, S, CI, K, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ca), others.

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Tobacco has a Tremendous Impact on the Environment, Climate and our Health. How can you break free?

As a child of heavily smoking parents, I always hated tobacco. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have an understanding of the impact tobacco had on their health when I was a child. Secondhand some also had an impact on my health, but can you blame someone that didn’t understand that smoke is smoke. A toxic combination of tiny particles and chemicals that will alter and break your DNA. Also, the mentality in Mediterranean and Balkan countries is still to this day different from the rest of the world. Some people still believe it is an enjoyable habit to smoke while taking a coffee or after a meal.

It took a great effort to teach my parents that smoking is not good for anyone. At the end, they saw plenty of examples among the family members that died due to this harmful habit, and they gave it up.

For most of us that have visited a beach, we have found a tremendous amount of cigarette butts in the sand. A disgusting habit that authorities must penalize because it is not only aesthetically unpleasing but is also harmful to the marine life and the food we end up eating.

Cigarette butts (filters or ends), the part that looks like white “cotton”, are actually made of plastic fibers. When this plastic is tossed into the environment, it leaches toxic chemicals, and it can take up to 10 years to decompose. We talk about roughly 4.5 trillion cigarettes butts each year with only an estimated third of which make it into the bins. The rest end up in the ocean, streets, and out of a window.

CO2 emissions are also beyond our capabilities to conceptualize big numbers. Here is an analogy to help us understand better the numbers. According to WHO, 84 million tonnes of CO2 are released into the atmosphere from tobacco production which is equal to 280,000 rocket launches to outer space.

According to Surgeon General’s Report, in the US alone, 2.5 million non-smokers adults died because they’ve breathed secondhand smoke since 1964. Worldwide, each year 1.2 million non-smokers die because they breathe secondhand smoke and ∼7 million smokers from direct smoke. Many diseases and health problems are linked to smoking and secondhand smoke. The most common are lung, liver, and colorectal cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and diabetes disease.

In this blog, I talk a lot about particulate matter (PM) with aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less aka PM2.5, and how dangerous it is to human health. Well, cigarette smoke also contains these fine particles which can reach deep inside your lungs and be transported even to your brain. In a 2018 study, researchers found that there was a massive increase in PM amount by smoking cigarettes in indoor spaces. Reachers measured clean air (1.6 µg/m³) and then they lighted a cigarette where they measured concentrations of 1800 µg/m³ and up to about 3070 µg/m³ depending on the additives and tar amount in the cigarettes.

You will find plenty of suggestions on how to stop that harmful habit in the internet. However, from my parents’ experience and what I see from people around me that have succeeded in breaking the habit of smoking only one thing really works. Owning the decision you have made. Many call it will power, but I call it knowing what you want.

I can give you a million reasons to stop smoking with real scientific data and fancy numbers, but at the end of the day it comes to how much you value yourself and if you want to be healthy or sick.

What is a Healthy Building? Why Indoor Air Quality is the Key?

Don’t be fooled, even the most outdoorsy person spends a great deal indoors. Apart from the fact that we spend a lot of time indoors because we are safe from the elements and other external threats, indoor environments are designed to meet other occupants’ needs like resting, being productive, or even having fun. A rule of thumb is to take your age and multiply it by 0.9. Vualá, that’s the time you have spent indoors so far.

Nowadays buildings are fully equipped with all sorts of things in an effort to make occupants’ life better, healthier, or even more creative. If we take as an example a modern house, we will find modern gym equipment, connected lights to create an atmosphere, smart vacuum cleaners, etc. If we take as an example an office building, we will find automation in the entrance with automated doors, fire alarms, elevators, etc.

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Review: Mila Air Purifier by Mila Cares

Indoor air purification made affordable!? If you see the competition out there, you will notice that some air purifiers are crazy expensive. Sometimes justified, but most of the time not so much. The problem is that in a modern household we want smart devices that will manage stuff for us automatically and intelligently. Here comes Mila Air, an air purifier for the modern ages in an affordable package.

Mila Air by Mila Cares uses proven techniques to remove air pollutants from your indoor environment such as filters with HEPA H12 or H13 or H14, among others. You choose which one is the best for you. There are many other filter combinations that are ingenuously described by the company in order to make the product more accessible to the everyday folks that want to improve indoor air quality and aren’t experts in the field.

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Los Libros de Nicholas ahora están disponible en Español – Nicholas’ books are available in Spanish

Los libros de Nicholas ahora están disponible en Español gracias a la colaboración con el Instituto Universitario de Medio Ambiente y Grupo de investigación Química Analítica Aplicada de la Universidade da Coruña. 

La educación ambiental de los niños es muy importante para poder promover la conciencia ecológica y el cuidado del ambiente en la ciudadanía. El aire puro que necesitamos para respirar y vivir es un derecho humano. La ONU calcula que aproximadamente 7 millones de personas mueren cada año de forma prematura debido a la contaminación del aire. Ademas un 90% de la población mundial respira aire contaminado.

Los libros van a estar disponibles en varias bibliotecas en Galicia (España) pero también están disponible en Amazon.