Monday, August 6, 2007

Not the air you thought

Used to be when you wanted to get outside to play, you just went outside and played. Doesn’t seem that way anymore for many of us.

You’ve probably heard of watching out for ozone levels and how at varying levels they can be damaging to your health. But have you ever heard of Particle pollution levels? These are the really nasty ones to watch out for.

Particle pollution (also known as "particulate matter") in the air includes a mixture of solids and liquid droplets. Some particles are emitted directly; others are formed in the atmosphere when other pollutants react. Particles come in a wide range of sizes. Those less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers is smaller than the width of a single human hair. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are called "fine" particles. These particles are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.

So every morning I’m now checking the AirNow.gov Web site to check out what the ozone and particle pollution levels are for my neck of the woods. And for this week, it looks as though they’re going to be plurry awful. Not good for those in our local kayaking group, the Mudflat Rangers, who want to get out kayaking on Wednesday night!

So if you're a biker, kayaker, or any outdoors sportsperson or worker, I suggest you check the particle pollution levels of your local area.

2 comments:

David said...

Thanks, Kristen. Nice summary. One thing folks should bear in mind is that the ozone level is a function of sunlight and usually peaks in late afternoon. Thus you can avoid it by exercising early. Particulate matter, however, is not nearly so diurnal; it may be high in the early morning, as it has been here in NC since last Saturday. Only this morning did it drop below code Orange.

Karina said...

Hi Kristen, thanks for the link to the airnow.gov site. I find that my skin is very sensitive to air pollution and I break out in terrible zits in big cities unless I wash my face 2-3 times a day (WAY more than I would outside the city). Unfortunately, it appears that no dermatologists have researched the relationship between air pollution and acne so I'm not sure exactly what kind of pollution aggravates my face. By the way, thanks for the comment on my blog. Just out of curiosity, how did you find it?