2022 was a year full of air quality news. Lots of scientific research and publications on how air pollution influences the health of individuals, but also the same bad patterns; wildfires, traffic, wood burning, crop burning, industrial malpractices, etc. For reference, kids who breathe polluted air can fall behind in school link, air pollution linked to a million stillbirths a year link, tiny particles in the air can cause sudden heart attacks link, air pollution during pregnancy and neurodevelopment in children link, and unfortunately many many more.
An important good piece of news was the new ‘Ella Bill’ to enshrine right to clean air. Thank you Rosamund Adoo Kissi Debrah.
I live in an area where wood burning is an unfortunate “cozy” habit for the people around me. So, I decided to see if patterns appear after monitoring the ambient air quality for 30 days in order to identify if there is any window that will allow me to open the windows and get some fresh & clean air. For the sake of simplicity, I will use only PM2.5 values.
I don’t mind if I have to wake up at 3:00 AM in order to allow some outdoor air to come inside and dilute some VOC and CO2 that build up. Indoors, PM2.5 concentrations are kept well under 5μg/m3 because I run the air purifiers 24/7. By the way in a recent, poster the position of the air purifier inside the house plays an important role in how well particles are captured.
Anyway, let’s jump into the data I collected and analyzed.
Let me tell you from the beginning it is not an easy task. Odors are VOCs, sulfur-containing compounds, and nitrogen-containing compounds. In most cases, odors come from rotten food inside the garbage bin or off-gassing materials that are new and of a low-quality like furniture, paint, and flooring.
Sulfur-containing compounds like hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs smell), dimethyl sulfide (rotten cabbage smell), etc are produced during the anaerobic breakdown of food waste. They have a low odor threshold, which means that we can smell them even in only very small amounts.
Nitrogen-containing compounds like putrescine (rotting meat smell), trimethylamine (fishy smell), etc have a low odor threshold. Unlike ammonia (pungent smell) which is produced in large quantities, it has a higher odor threshold, so doesn’t contribute to indoor smell as much.
Another source of unpleasant odor indoors is the combustion of cigarettes/wood as the chemicals released from the burning biomass can infuse inside the walls and textiles. They call it thirdhand smoke as the residual contamination from smoke lingers indoors, and the cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde can harm us.
There are countless times that I stretch the importance of monitoring and managing indoor air quality by keeping an eye on the outdoor air quality/conditions.
In this experiment, I want to demonstrate that it is hard to manage indoor air. I want to state that indoor spaces should be subject to 24/7 monitoring and not a periodic inspection.
The graph below demonstrated that indoor AQ gets influenced by outdoor air and on top of that, the polluted air lingers for a longer time indoors unless there is a mitigation plan (aka filtration) in place.
In my effort to help clean air communities to raise awareness (I am not only words), I decided to design three simple circular stickers which I will distribute to the communities once the poll is closed and you have selected the best sticker.
Choose one between the three of them and apply to get stickers once the poll is closed. You can apply for the winning sticker via the contact page. Thank you!
In a constant effort to educate the community, I highly recommend you to attend my upcoming webinar “Size Matters: Why is important to know the Particle Size Distribution“. The webinar is scheduled for the16th of November, 2022 at 8am EST.
Although it is a business oriented webinar, I will also try to educate in simple terms the attendees on what is PM2.5 and why it falls short as it doesn’t reveal in detail the make up of air pollution.
You probably have seen “cozy” images of fireplaces or wood stoves with happy people, a blanket around them, and a hot beverage and you may have thought that’s something very appealing, I want that! Well, I would suggest thinking twice before taking that decision and if you have already taken it, maybe it’s time to undo your mistake.
You see, people get sick thanks to these “cozy” elements in houses. It’s very hard to undo the brain wash the wood stove industry has done all of these years but we have to realize that wood burning is neither sustainable nor healthy.
Many claims that biomass is sustainable but this is a myth. A story designed to push people into spending money for status or simple ineffective heating. You see, clean energy (wind, solar, etc) doesn’t require the user to buy fuel, logs, or pellets every season. It is there for us but doesn’t generate constant revenue for the companies.
One will think that the more modern the house, the better the indoor air quality. However, that’s not always the truth as recently I discovered that many houses have inadequate appliances that will create harmful air pollutants and some of them will falsely mitigate contaminants by creating a false sense of remediation.
Gas cooktops are a must according to good chefs as the pans are able to heat immediately and you have more control of the heat. That’s not true as the new induction cook tops are able to heat the bottom of the pans as fast without releasing harmful pollutants like Nitrogen dioxide.
Not lots of people are ready to accept the truth or understand it. We dismiss important information when it is not visible “out of sight, out of mind” and we get influenced when something is shiny and pretty.
Poor air quality won’t kill you (at least not immediately and depending on the pollutants), but do you want to be an average employee, athlete, parent, student, or the best? Do you want your employees to work in mediocre conditions and perform poorly, or do you want them to be vibrant and productive?
I have this simple question. Have you noticed Climate Change?
I believe the summer heat has helped many in the northern hemisphere to notice that something is going on. However, climate change is not only extreme heat but a lot more.
Lots of news are covering the record temperatures that are registered in places never seen before. Lots of articles are talking about the deaths these high temperatures cause. All of them are true, but no one mentions the effects on the environment that supports our food chain and the animals that live on this planet too. Crops and animals, suffer a lot, and they don’t have an air conditioner to cope with the heat or an air purifier to cope with the air pollution.
Ground-level ozone causes more damage to plants and trees than any other air pollutant. Ozone penetrates leaves through stomata (tiny openings present on the epidermis of leaves) during gas exchange. Ozone is a strong oxidant, and it causes several types of symptoms, including chlorosis (yellowing of leaf) and necrosis (the death of the tissue).