The Air We Breathe: Addressing Indoor Air Quality

The Air We Breathe: Addressing Indoor Air Quality

As staggering as the facts are about outdoor air pollution, most of our exposure to pollutants may actually come from poor indoor air quality.
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Addressing #IndoorAirQuality #IAQ via @SaraGBM

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Friday, July 10, 2015 - 6:00am

CAMPAIGN: Indoor Air Quality


One of my favorite things about living at 9,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies is the fresh, crisp air. It’s particularly aromatic after a rainstorm, and it’s so clear in the evenings that, on a cloudless night, I feel like I can see the entire universe.

Now that I live in the least populated county in the lower 48 with more elk than people and some of the cleanest air in the U.S., I’m acutely aware of air quality when I travel to urban areas. In cities across the world, carbon dioxide emissions from tailpipes, factories, and refineries are trapping heat and creating toxic “domes” that act as suffocating shrouds.

Take, for example, Los Angeles and its southerly neighbor Long Beach, which boast ports that are the entry points for more than half of the goods shipped into the US each year.   While these ports are essential to commerce in our country, they are also the largest source of air pollution in California, with a complex infrastructure of idling cargo ships that deliver over 30,000 containers from Asia every day to approximately 1,200 diesel-powered freight trains and 35,000 trucks that transport goods across the country.

The City of Angels also has the highest number of vehicles per capita in the country (nearly two per household), which translates into 12 million vehicles traveling the extensive highway system every day. This substantial vehicle exhaust, in combination with emissions from the Central Valley’s farming and industrial activities and growing urban sprawl throughout the state, has put California on top of the list of cities with the worst air pollution in the nation.

California is not isolated in its air pollution woes, and emissions aren’t like Vegas—pollution emitted in one location doesn’t stay there. Pollution gets swept away by air streams and travels like a vagabond.

Extreme pollution across the globe has resulted in a dramatic increase in respiratory disease, asthma and stunted lung development in children, and a higher rate of premature and disabled infants. As temperatures continue to rise, population grows, carbon levels increase, and air quality worsens, it is expected that one out of every four children born will develop asthma.

As staggering as the facts are about outdoor air pollution, UL Environment claims that most of our exposure to environmental pollutants actually comes from breathing indoor air.


CATEGORY: Environment