Ever hear of PM2.5? No, it’s not a new way to designate 2:30 in the afternoon. And it’s not a new software program. Or the name of a rap artist.
It’s a reference to microscopic particulate pollution. These are tiny particles in the air that can reduce visibility and make the sky hazy when levels are elevated.
These small particles or droplets in the air are 2.5 microns or less in width. Laid side by side, 25,000 of them would take up an inch on a ruler.
How could something that small negatively affect the air we breathe?
Microscopic Particles a Big Problem
A few hundred or even a few thousand of these particles can’t do much damage. But when they congregate in larger numbers, look out.
The outdoor particles we breathe in come from the exhausts of cars, trucks, buses and trains. Plus construction equipment and power plant emissions.
In addition, industrial processes involve chemicals that can release these particles. As can materials made of wood when it is burned.
Indoor activities can also cause these particles to form and float around. Cooking, fireplaces, space heaters and tobacco smoke are some of the culprits.
4.2 Million Deaths
To monitor how these tiny particles can affect our health, the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for them. Twelve micrograms per cubic meter over 24 hours is considered the upper limit for “good” air quality.
Here’s some perspective on this. Levels reached 200 micrograms per cubic meter in California during the 2018 Camp Fire. That’s considered “very unhealthy” by the EPA.
Passing a “hazardous” level and entering into “extreme” was a recent reading in New Delhi, India. Their most polluted day in November reached the 900 mark.
An estimated 4.2 million deaths worldwide were caused by particulate pollution in 2015. Millions of others were sickened by this pollution.
Invading Our Lungs and Bloodstream
PM2.5 enters our bodies through our noses and mouths as we breathe. These particles then settle in our lungs and even in our bloodstream.
They can increase our risk of heart attack and stroke. And worsen asthma and other lung disorders.
This pollution has also been linked to developmental problems in children. And mental impairment in the elderly. Plus low birth rates and premature labor.
“You can’t function (and) you can’t thrive” under high levels of particulate pollution. So says Alexandra Karambelas. She’s an environmental analyst and research scientist.
Americans Are Not Immune
Now, a vast majority of deaths from air pollution occur in eastern and southern Asia.
But some of those deaths and plenty of illnesses also happen here in America due to particulate pollution.
Fine particulate matter contributed to an estimated 88,000 premature deaths in the U.S. in 2015.
Air quality is almost always worse in urban areas than in rural communities. Hot weather exacerbates the situation. But even “safe” levels of pollution can cause health problems. And it’s no surprise that outdoor air pollution will always find its way indoors.
Worst U.S. Cities for Pollution
Over the past several years, air pollution has been worsening in America. The National Bureau of Economic Research attributed 10,000 premature deaths to this increase.
The American Lung Association produced a “State of the Air” report in 2019. It revealed that more than 141 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution.
Here’s a list of the 10 worst U.S. areas for air quality:
10 – San Diego/Carlsbad, California
9 – Hanford/Corcoran, California
8 – Payson, Arizona
7 – Fresno, California
6 – Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, California
5 – Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Arizona
4 – Visalia/Porterville, California
3 – Bakersfield, California
2 – Hilo, Hawaii
1 – Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario, California
Other cities ranking in the “worst 30” include Denver (11), Salt Lake City (13), Las Vegas (15), Chicago (17) and Pittsburgh (19). Plus Philadelphia (20), El Paso (21), St. Louis (24) and Detroit (26). And Albuquerque (28), San Francisco (29) and New York (30).
Minor Irritations to Major Problems
Maybe your city was not mentioned above. But there’s still a good possibility you are breathing in harmful contaminants in your home’s air.
Among the things that can cause poor indoor air quality are mold and pollen. As well as household items and pesticides. Plus gases including radon and carbon monoxide. And materials such as asbestos, lead and formaldehyde.
The consequences on our health can sometimes be minor, although annoying. Such as fatigue and dizziness. Or headaches and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
But prolonged exposure to airborne contaminants can be much more serious. And the resulting respiratory issues can last a long time.
Trapped Inside With Contaminants
Indoor air pollution can actually be a bigger problem than outdoor air pollution for many people.
That’s mainly because most of us spend about 90 percent of our time inside our homes or other buildings.
Many of today’s homes and office buildings are energy efficient. That means they allow very little air from the outside to enter.
That keeps cold air from seeping in during the winter and hot air in the summer. But it also keeps indoor contaminants from escaping.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s up to all of us to protect ourselves and our families from airborne contaminants in our homes. Fortunately, with the advances in air purification science, that’s easier than ever… especially if you get your hands on this…
The Patriot Pure Air Purification System is a revolutionary air filter that gives you a powerful measure of protection from the real-life nightmare of toxins that fill the air in your home.
With its 7-stage IonCluster Carbon HEPA Multi-Filter Technology, you’re protected against mold, smoke, dust mites, toxic particulates, pollen, pet dander and so much more.