Particle pollution (PM) is one of the top 6 pollution concerns. What is particle pollution comprised of? It can be such items as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, soot and other components. Anyone who has approached a major city on the highway and noticed the grayish smog hanging above the city has seen the effect of particle pollution.
In the less polluted areas of the United States, PM 2.5 measures between 2 to 3 μg / m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). In cities, particle pollution (PM) can often exceed 35 μg / m3. This is disturbing enough, however, when you realize that PM 2.5 can be 2 to 5 times higher inside you home, one can start to begin understanding the health consequences.
On several polluted days, excess PM 2.5 can even cause death. PM 2.5 can also cause death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes, including strokes. Additionally, it can cause an increase in heart attacks, emergency room visits and asthma attacks. It is even being tied to cancer.
It is the authors opinion that the government actually knows that a 24 hour standard of 35 μg / m3 is not healthy and actually increases the death rate, but most major cities would have a very difficult time getting below that number.
As mentioned earlier, it is bad enough to breathe the outside air, but the inside air is often worse. Most homes get their air through unfiltered outside air. Then we use cleaning solutions, hair spray, fresheners, cooking oils and add to the rate of particle pollution. Since many folks spend up to 90% of their time inside, our own homes can increase our chances of cancer, heart attacks and strokes.
What many do not realize is that this particle pollution can go directly into our blood stream as it travels to our brains and central nervous system. The National Institute of Health expresses how millions of children in polluted cities show brain detrimental effects. The brain can become inflamed and decrease cognitive abilities. The child's ability to smell, talk or even stay balanced may be damaged.
What can be done? In the author's opinion, the fastest improvement would have been to improve the indoor air quality since many stay indoors the vast majority of their lives. This is something that can be done immediately and without wasting time with the bureaucracy that is telling us that 35 micrograms per cubic meter is a safe level. We need to create our homes and offices into low pollution areas like these small unpolluted towns that are far away from the megacities.