Modern Houses & Indoor Air Quality 🏡

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.

Example #1

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.

Gas stoves, especially when unvented, can be the number one source of indoor air pollution. According to new research, gas cooking produces about twice PM2.5 as electric cooktops; including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (CH2O). 

Example #2

Hoods, extractors or over-the-range microwaves “with” exhaust are important while cooking. However, the over-range microwaves that come with an extractor end up reticulating air indoors without proper filtration.

Most houses in the US have these false products that give the sense of remediation but they actually contribute to indoor air pollution. Look at the holes this aluminum filter has! These products are designed to trick customers and spend electricity without any measurable results. Shame on the companies that sell them!

Example #3

Once more, most gas heaters, which are installed indoors without any proper ventilation, result in more unnecessary indoor air pollution. They release the same pollutants as the gas stoves because the combustion of the “natural” gas, which is a fossil fuel, creates all of the above pollutants.

Mitigation

Although my cooktop doesn’t use gas, particulate matter is also released when we cook. I managed to mitigate the pollution that comes out of the pots while cooking with a portable air purifier (AirBubbl by Rensair) which was able to fit above the microwave and capture on the HEPA filter most of the particles by easing the air I breathe indoors.

Finally, I keep windows open when possible and the bathroom extractor on in order to dilute the indoor air with outdoor air (when the ambient air is clean). CO2 and VOCs drop significantly with this technique and PMs are managed well.

It is hard to make drastic changes to an apartment when living on rent, but there are a few techniques that will help us remove pollutants from the indoor air. Next, I will have to buy a high CADR number indoor air purifier with a good HEPA filter.

The Truth about Indoor Air Quality

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.

Productivity

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?

Excellent indoor air quality will boost the performance of all. The main environmental parameters you must consider addressing are four, Particulate Matter (PM2.5), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Temperatures, and Humidity. I haven’t included VOCs because poor ventilation and high CO2 levels will result in high VOC levels, so I made things easier.

Health

Air pollution is not easily understood by most people mainly because it is invisible. No one is going to drink a glass of water if the water is dirty but how many times have you had to breathe second-hand smoke, vehicle fumes, or wood-burning smoke! I will say with certainty there were many times and you don’t even worry or remember about it.

The respiratory system isn’t designed to deal with fine particulates and other pollutants. The gastrointestinal system, where solids and liquids get digested, can deal with contaminants because it can get rid of them through the two avenues designed by nature. Sure drinking or eating extremely spoiled food and drinks can lead to deadly diarrhea. However, the respiratory system cannot do something similar and pollutants get accumulated inside the lungs. The smallest pollutants like PM1.0 and gases are distributed through blood even to the brain.

Sure, you can cough, but once particles are inside us they are stuck around the walls because of the fluids. Here is an example of an adult male who was a non-smoker and his lungs are black because of the indoor and ambient pollution. He donated his body to science, and now people can see “him” at the museum of Granada in Spain.

I don’t want to repeat myself and tell you that you spend 86.9%NHAPS of your time indoors, but it’s a fact!

Air is the most important element because without it you only have 3 minutes to live. You literally remove years from your life when pollution is inhaled.

Finally, I believe it is time for researcher to look into the size distribution of the particles rather than generic PM2.5 values that can represent many potential size distributions.

Have you noticed Climate Change?

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.

Ozone (O3)

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).

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Low-Cost Sensors, Do They Hold Up To The Hype?

Low-cost sensors have helped communities see the air quality, but experts are still debating whether data are accurate or not. In many cases, monitor manufacturers have to turn to data manipulation in order to get accurate results, but it is time to step up by deploying better sensor technology.

The technology exists and we should take advantage of it as soon as possible. Almost always, the first thing I am asked about sensors is how accurate they are. Well, this question has a very tricky answer. In many cases, we measure accuracy by comparing a low-cost sensor with a reference monitor, which worths thousands of dollars. However, the comparison is not always fair. For example, if the XYZ company sends their monitor for evaluation during a high humidity season then unless they have a heater or dryer at the inlet to remove humid droplets of water from the samples before measurement then the results from the correlation would be catastrophic.

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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.

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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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