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How good is the AIR you breathe daily?

What is the air you breath daily made of?

Where do these things come from?

Why are these things in our air?

What does it mean when we have a green, orange, yellow or red day for air quality?

Why is part of the nation different than others?


Compounds in the air

Agency for toxic substance and disease registry reports the following

Pollution by definition is any undesirable substance that enters the atmosphere.  These things are generally present at greater levels than it should be.  These problems are generally present in large cities but have no boundaries.  These substances include various gases or particulates that can harm human health and damage the environment.  They may be gaseous, liquid or solids.  This pollution is a result of human behavior.  This happens on different levels: personal, national and global.


Gaseous Pollutants:  Include the following,

carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and ozone.  There are many sources that produce these chemical compounds but most are from burning fossil fuel.  Indoor air pollution comes from cigarette smoke, certain construction materials, cleaning products & home furnishings.  Outdoor gaseous pollutants come from volcanoes, fires, and industry, and in some areas may be tremendous.  Smog is the most recognized type of pollution.  This is caused by the action of sunlight on exhaust gases from motor vehicles & factories.

The Greenhouse effect prevents the sun’s heat from escaping the atmosphere.  This warms the earth.  Certain amount of green house gases are needed but the burning of fossil fuel is creating a gaseous layer to thick to allow some heat to escape to the atmosphere.  Scientist believe this is causing global warming.  Other gases creating havoc are CFC’s, methane, nitrous oxides and ozone. 

Acid Rain is formed when moisture mixes with nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide released from factories, power plants & vehicles powered with fuel.  This creates sulfuric acid & nitric acid.  These chemicals may travel thousands of miles with wind currents before falling as dew, drizzle, fog, rain or snow.

Particulate matter is the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets.  Some are large enough to be seen others need an electron microscope.  This particulate when breathed in can cause lung damage & breathing problems.  Fine particles are breathed in easily and can travel deep into the lungs where  it may be absorbed in the blood stream or remain embedded for long periods of time.


Our Air Quality Index is as follows.

Range              Conditions are                         Color

0-50                 Good                                       Green

50-100             Moderate                                 Yellow

110-150           Unhealthy sensitive groups     Orange

151-200           Unhealthy                                Red

201-350           Very unhealthy                        Purple

301-500           Hazardous                               Maroon



How air pollution affects us

An increase in air pollution affects our lung function & increases heart attacks.  A high level of pollution affects those that are asthmatic or have types of lung or heart disease.  The elderly and children are most vulnerable.


Obviously every breath we take in can be a factor in amounts of ingestion, but we can also take these pollutants in by eating food, drinking water, ingesting contaminated soil, touching soil, dust or water.


Other Indoor air pollutants.

Tobacco smoke, asbestos & radon publicized as carcinogens.

Mercury & lead cause slow thinking and are found in paint.

VOC’s Formaldehyde, pesticides found in furniture, carpet & bug sprays.

Mold, Dust Mites, Animal dander & other biologicals.


Symptoms of these problems are as follows:

94% of all respiratory ailments are caused by air quality according the American Medical Society.

rhinitis/pharyngitis, nasal congestion, fatigue, eye irritation, persistent cough, conjunctival irritation, headache, wheezing & chronic respiratory conditions, asthma, frequent upper respiratory infections, persistent middle ear infection, snoring, repeated pneumonia, bronchitis & I am sure there are many others.


Symptoms of mold problems are many:

Allergy, asthma, bleeding lungs, cancer , central nervous system effects, colds with decreased resistance, sore lungs, coughing blood, skin rash, diarrhea, vision trouble,  fatigue, flu symptoms, hair loss, headaches, hives, irritable, itching, kidney failure, learning & mental function loss, skin sores, redness of eyes, seizures, sinus congestion or problems, skin redness, sleep disorders, sneezing, sore throat, trouble speaking , vertigo & vomiting.