Don’t Let Bad Air Ruin Your Summer

While this is a seasonal phenomenon, it can have long-lasting consequences. Poor air quality has been linked to a number of respiratory, cardiac, and psychological ailments.

Summer is a time for making memories. It is when the kids leave school, bathing suits come out of the drawer, burgers and hot dogs go on the grill, and the cameras on our phones memorialize every last minute. There is nothing more quintessentially American than summertime. Regrettably, we now face something more consequential than a painful sunburn following a day at the beach: Bad Air Quality. The Los Angeles Times reported this week that warmer weather makes all the problems in our air worse. While this is a seasonal phenomenon, it can have long-lasting consequences. Poor air quality has been linked to a number of respiratorycardiac, and psychological ailments. Something to keep in mind while compiling your summer fun checklist.

Ground Level Ozone

Ozone is probably a term most of us are familiar with. It’s best-known function is protecting us from the sun’s UV rays in the earth’s stratosphere. Some will probably recall learning about the manmade “hole” in the Ozone layer, and all the consequences that came of it. Fortunately, that situation is getting better. However, the issue of ground-level Ozone certainly isn’t. Ground-level ozone is created by reactions between nitrogen-containing compounds (called NOX) and Volatile Organic Compounds (called VOCs). Both of these chemical categories are emitted as pollution from vehicles and industrial activity. The problem is particularly acute on warm sunny days. In nature, heat makes chemical reactions happen faster. So, during the summer more ground-level ozone will be created than at other times of the year. While Ozone is wonderful high up in the stratosphere, it is really, really bad down here where we live. Ozone can cause serious issues for the lungs. Ozone is an oxidative molecule. This means that it likes to steal electrons from other chemicals. So, if you inhale Ozone it will be oxidizing the tissue in your lungs. That is obviously a bad thing. The EPA has linked Ozone exposure to chest pains, coughing, throat irritation, airway obstruction, and reduced lung function. Over time, this can turn into bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. So, it pays to be up to date on the ground level ozone situation in your area. It is usually most heavily concentrated in large urban areas because of the population density and concentration of economic activity. If you live somewhere like Southern California and your summer plans call for long days at the beach. This could be a big problem.

Ground Level Ozone

VOCs are another problem that gets worse during the summer months. These are organic (carbon-based) compounds that exist as a gas under normal conditions. They are varied and ubiquitous. Some of them originate from manmade sources such as paints, while others are natural. Regardless of the source, VOCs are unhealthy. They have been linked to all of the same maladies that Ozone is responsible for. What gives VOCs the edge in notoriety is their tendency to concentrate inside of homes. Indoor concentrations of VOCs have been proven to be ten times the outdoor concentration. It makes sense because the air conditioning units we use to keep cool in the warmer months only replace thirty percent of the air in our home on a regular schedule. So, if something is outside it gets in and stays in. There are a lot of indoor sources of VOCs too. They are emitted by just about everything. The finish on the wood floor, the new coat of paint, the cleaning supplies, the carpet, the fabrics on furniture all emit VOCs. If you have electronics built from plastics, or cook on an electric stove that will emit VOCs as well. Of course, it’s hot in the summer months, and to keep our indoor spaces cool we blast the air conditioner. This enhances the problem. The hot weather makes it easier for VOCs to form, and the accelerated movement of air pushes more of them into your home. It’s a vicious cycle, and one you should be aware of. Most people aren’t, and you shouldn’t be shocked if this is the first you have heard of the issue. It’s not that it isn’t in the news, you can enter “Air Quality” into your search bar and have a fortnight’s reading with two day’s reporting on the subject. Either the public is apathetic about it, or it is simply squeezed out by more sensational news topics. Those aren’t in short supply in 2019.

How To Stay Safe This Summer

So, there is the problem: Ground Level Ozone and VOCs are more plentiful when the temperature rises. They are both bad for you in the short term and can have really terrible long term health effects. How does one avoid these things without spending their summer months in some kind of bubble or remove Arctic outpost? Well, probably the first thing to do is remember what you have read here next time you vote. Who takes a position on these things? As we have noted, this information is locked away in a vault somewhere. But, expecting dramatic change from the top is probably wishful thinking if the last few years count for anything. So, probably the best thing to do is get an air purifier. At the very least your home (and possibly office) will be free of these air pollutants. And, whether you realize it or not it is still where you spend most of your time. Even if you have hardcore “outdoor” kids who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the dinner table, they still spend at least seven hours sleeping. Limiting exposure limits effects. True, an air purifier isn’t going to fix the situation outside. You need to spend more time on that air quality search to keep abreast of that. But, it does keep you and your family safe for most of the day. And, that helps. Let’s clear up one thing here though when we say air purifier we explicitly do not mean filter. The fact that these two terms have become convoluted is surely one of the great failings of public science in the last millennia. Filters are good. They get all the dog hair, dust, and cigar smoke out of the air. But, here is the thing: You already have one. If you are like most Americans, then you have an air conditioner. Every month you go to the grocery store, buy a white boxy looking thing crossed with wire. That is a filter. And, it is all the filter you need. Every bit of air in your home passes through that filter probably once per hour. Yet, when you go to Amazon and look for an air purifier the first four pages are filled with filters. What gives? Well, those devices you are looking at do no more or less than what is already in your house. And, at best they are going to filter the air in a single room. So, you would be spending a lot of money (usually between $250 and $1000) to do what you are already doing consciously or not. When we say to get an air purifier, we mean the really high tech kind. The stuff developed by scientists and engineers at places like NASA. Something with a catalyst, that can do the Chemistry that permanently removes VOCs and Ozone from your indoor air. That is what we mean by air purifier, and you should have one in your home. Stay safe, and have a wonderful summer.
For information on Airocide Filterless Air Purification Systems, please contact us at (855) 862-2882 or email us at info@battaenv.com
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