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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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.

Air Quality Monitors – Comparison List 2022 Q2

The famous list with all the available indoor air quality monitors is finally updated. In this version there are two tabs. Air quality monitors for consumers (B2C) and for businesses (B2B). As always, I stay away from knockoffs and cheap products. An air quality monitor needs to function properly for 5 to 10 years depending the sensors − gas sensors tend to have a shorter lifespan.

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OPEN Ambient Air Quality DATA

There is some serious competition in the market of environmental monitoring and particularly in air quality. There are a lot of ambient air quality monitors available with great features and great sensors, the problem is that society doesn’t benefit from the variability of monitors because AQ data are scattered in different platforms/maps. It is hard for end-users and citizens to find which monitor is active and where (especially if you move). Someone needs to gather low-cost AQ data from everywhere and offer it to users in easy service.

Last year, on my trip across Europe, I monitored air quality with a portable monitor, but I wanted to compare the data I got against the official or other low-cost monitors out there. It was impossible!

The openaq team is doing just that. They are gathering data from official and low-cost sensors (stationary and mobile). Unfortunately, even today I cannot access data from specific low-cost monitors that take advantage of the API and their open map.

This are the brands that collaborate and they provide data to openaq:

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