The publication Technology Networks recently published an article I wrote regarding the harmful medical effects of poor air quality. The air pollution has certainly improved dramatically since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its Clean Air Act regulations; but what people may not realize is that there are still reasons to be concerned.
The Act calls for states and the EPA to solve multiple air pollution problems through programs based on the latest science and technology information. According to the EPA website, “To protect public health and welfare nationwide, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish national ambient air quality standards for certain common and widespread pollutants based on the latest science. EPA has set air quality standards for six common “criteria pollutants”: particulate matter (also known as particle pollution), ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead.”
Since the time that the Clean Air Act was implemented, more people have been made aware of how hazardous and toxic air pollutants, acid rain, and chemical emissions from industrial plants can pose health threats. However, some don’t realize that natural events, such as the many wildfires we have seen in the Pacific Northwest, can be a concern as well. Just how detrimental is the particulate matter that results from the fire-raged areas to human health, and what is being done about it?
We have learned from our geographic neighbors just how harmful the particulates from fires can be. When smoke from nearby wildfires reached Mexico City (one of the world’s most populous megalopolises), Mexican authorities declared an environmental emergency, as the fires pushed pollution to levels deemed potentially harmful to human health. Environmental authorities advised residents to avoid outdoor activities and exercise and remain indoors with windows and doors shut. It called for especially sensitive groups, including infants, the elderly and sick, to stay at home.
The EPA warns that larger and more intense wildfires are creating the potential for greater smoke production and chronic exposures in the U.S., particularly in the West.
The effects of smoke from wildfires can range from eye and respiratory tract irritation to more serious disorders, including reduced lung function, bronchitis, exacerbation of asthma and heart failure, and premature death. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to smoke exposure. Emissions from wildfires are known to cause increased visits to hospitals and clinics by those exposed to smoke.
As I wrote in the article, fortunately, most of us in the U.S. are protected by highly advanced air quality measurement instruments that serve as an early warning system for air quality danger. Read the article to learn about the five criteria that play some role in deciding where and how monitoring technology is used, and how the recent air quality emergencies caused by wildfires continue to demonstrate that vigilance to air quality monitoring is critically important to public health.
Read the article: The Harmful Effects of Poor Air Quality.