Air Pollution: Greatest Threat Facing Mankind?

Air pollution - environmental issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

Imagine a tree-lined horizon where a smoke stack rises into the sky with grey smoke pouring out over all the greenery. This is a view I saw when playing outside my family’s house as a child. There is an eerie appreciation to be gained at the sight of nature being pushed aside for industry that provides the products and services we consider essential to everyday life. So we might consider pollution to be an unfortunate but seemingly necessary by-product of human progress. The effects of which have been wide and far reaching since the start of the industrial revolution during the 1700s up through much of the 20th century as factory output was unregulated and its impact on human health went unchecked for a long time.

Over the last half-century our understanding of air quality’s affect on human health, wildlife, and climate patterns has improved. Agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in America seek to control emissions to protect human health by dictating safe levels of outdoor and indoor pollution. Still, there remains controversy regarding the actual costs associated with the creation of more strict pollution standards versus the realized human and environmental benefits.

But there is more to it than just cost. If we view global morality statistics we can estimate 56 million people die each year from various causes. According to a 2012 World Health Organization report, 1-in-7 (8 million) yearly deaths are directly attributed to air pollution. This marks air pollution as one of the single greatest environmental risk factors that humans currently face.

What do we Need to Know About Air Quality?

Nations are free to enact their own environmental laws to limit or reduce the output of harmful particles and gases. In developed nations with economic stability and greater access to innovative technologies, industry can often exist while limiting environmental impact. But for all our advancements into renewable energy and zero emissions, we live in an era where many nations are now undergoing a sort of industrial revolution of their own. Explosive growth has benefited many once small economies primarily in India and eastern Asia. It is in these regions where leaders struggle to balance economic demand with air quality and the health of their citizens. Knowing what we know now it might seem prudent to demand other nations fall in line with our environmental polices, however no country may impose such rules on another. As is, there are global frameworks in place designed to promote new environmental rules and regulations that won’t infringe too greatly on economic development.

The World Health Organization writes that a lack of awareness of the international evidence from both developed and developing countries linking ambient air pollution exposure and health is under-appreciated, and the potential solutions that can be taken to improve air quality would greatly benefit public health and reduce burdens on local populations and governments.

To understand the problem of air pollution, we need to examine a few different elements and their impact on human health. In America, The Environmental Protection Agency lists 6 common air pollutants that pose the greatest harm to human and environmental health. They are refereed to as criteria air pollutants because the EPA uses science-based guidelines for setting permissible levels of each. The sources of these pollutants primarily result from vehicle emissions and fossil fuel power plants.

Ozone (O3) – A chemical reaction created when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) react in the presence of sunlight. This is not the same as the ozone layer around Earth. Asthma is often the result of unsafe ozone levels.

Particulate Matter (PM) – A complex mixture of small particles and liquid droplets that persist in the form of nitrates and suflates, organic chemicals, metals, soil, and dust. The concern over these particles are due to their small size. A particle whose diameter is less than 10 micrometers can pass through the throat and nose to enter the lungs.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Emitted during combustion processes, the colorless and odorless gas is common in urban areas where a greater number of cars reside. CO reduces the bodies ability to transport oxygen to the heart and brain. High CO levels can result in death.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – A group of reactive gasses known as oxides of nitrogen, or nitrogen oxides (NOx) that is commonly referred to as smog and is associated with acid rain. NO2 contributes to ground-level ozone formation, and fine particle pollution, both of which are linked to adverse respiratory problems.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) – Highly reactive gasses known as oxides of sulfur that are primarily a product of fossil fuel combustion at power plants and industrial facilities. While unsafe to inhale, the Center for Science in the Public Interest lists SO2 as a safe food preservative.

Lead (Pb) – Naturally found in the environment and manufactured products, its emission from the transportation sector has declined 95 percent between 1980 and 1999. In that same period lead in air levels decreased 94 percent. Effects on humans range from high blood pressure and immune disorders, to neurological and behavioral problems often seen in infants and young children.

In part 2 of this blog, we’ll discuss the diseases that are caused by air pollution, and ways we can improve air quality in our lives for a healthier and happier future. Read part 2 here.


Benefits of Filtration: Reasons Filtration Matter to You and Your Family

Smiling Family

There are many reasons why you need to be drinking clean, healthy, filtered water and also using HEPA air filters in your home. The most important reason is you are making sure you are doing everything possible to keep you and your family safe and in overall good health!

Filtering your water is the only way to ensure that you are drinking clean water. Your body weight is made up of approximately 60% water. So staying hydrated is extremely important! Water keeps your tissues and other organs moist and regulates your body’s temperature. By doing everyday things like breathing, sweating, and even digestion of the food you eat, you are losing water. There are so many contaminants that you have to worry about in the water source going in to your home today. Chemicals, lead, bacteria and so much more can be found in different water sources. Municipal water treatment facilities sometimes experience outbreaks of bacterial contaminants in the tap water. You have probably heard on your local news at one time or another giving the public a warning to “boil your water”.

Did you know that there are over 2000 known drinking water contaminants that can be present in tap water? Not only that, there are several different types of cancer that can be attributed when certain toxic materials are found in water. The EPA has even gone on to state that lead in drinking water contributes to 480,000 cases of learning disorders each year in children here in the U.S. Lead also has been found to cause birth defects in pregnant women. The unpleasant facts just seem to go on and on!  If you aren’t using any type of water filtration in your home, now is the time to research what will work for you and your family. Find a filtration system that removes the bad things without removing the beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Air filtration is something else to important for your family’s health. If you aren’t using a HEPA filter in your furnace or air conditioner unit, you should be!  These filters are truly fabulous for trapping irritating airborne particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. If you or a family member suffers with allergies or other breathing conditions, HEPA filters are highly recommended. Also, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will capture and trap particles in carpets and rugs that can cause allergy symptoms.

If you are filtering your water and using HEPA filters in your home’s furnace and air conditioning unit, you are taking important steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Keep up the great work! If you aren’t using any type of filtration (whether water or air), it’s time to start!  Visit and start enjoying clean living!

How Filtration Plays an Important Role in Allergy Defense

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Let’s talk indoor allergies. Most of us think that people with allergies suffer mostly during the spring and summer months. That’s not necessarily true. They also suffer during the winter months as well. Did you know that there is an estimated 50 million people who suffer with either indoor or outdoor allergies? Some suffer with both. If you suffer with indoor allergies, there are steps that you can take to help relieve the symptoms. The biggest challenge of course is in identifying the allergens that trigger the symptoms. Using proper filtration in your home is the first step in finding relief from whatever indoor allergen (dust, dust mites, molds, pet dander) that is making you miserable!

Whether you are stuck inside your home during the cold winter months or getting ready to start enjoying flowers blooming in the spring, having a high-efficiency media filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in your furnace or air conditioning unit is a must! You want to be using an air filter that captures at least 99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter, or larger.

One major trigger for indoor allergies is dust. If dust is your enemy, having a great media filter that will help remove particulates floating around in your home is the way to go.  Remember to use a damp cloth when dusting so that you aren’t just spreading the dust around, sending it airborne. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter also helps to capture the dust that has settled on your floors or carpets after dusting furniture. Also, keep those air vents and air returns clean. If you change your air filter at least every three months, you will help keep the air clean year round in your home. Another thing to consider is to have your heating and air conditioner units inspected and serviced every six months.

If you are having problems with humidity in your home, using a hygrometer to measure the humidity is helpful. You want the humidity level below 55%. If you live in a state where it is humid and sticky (like Florida), a dehumidifier might give you some relief.

Whatever indoor allergies you may suffer with, know that relief is just a filter away!  Defend yourself by finding out what will work best for you by visiting and start getting that well deserved good night sleep!