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October 30, 2017

When in Doubt Take Pollution Out

“Water and air, the two essential fluids in which all life depends, have become global trash cans.” – Jacques Cousteau

There comes a time in our lives when acting upon morally right principles supersede the actions that do more harm. The phrase “do unto … as you would want done unto you,” is in full swing here. When talking about the consequences of our actions towards the planet in terms, there is no exception to that moral rule. As an environmentally conscious technology company that strives to impact the planet in a positive way, the quality of our air is of high environmental concern. We know how polluted the air we breathe is. We want to help you understand its toxicity as well. Our values stand innumerably against profit with the planet’s wellbeing at stake.

We are one of many technology companies who are determined to raise awareness about pollution. Typically, our involvement in discovering, inventing, and applying new technologies came from an innate desire to make a difference and help others do so in the process.

In this blog, we uncover:

  • The frightful truth of air pollution;
  • Why our air should matter to the world’s population;
  • What is being done to bring awareness to our communities about air pollution;
  • What energy conservation means to the quality of our air; and,
  • How Inibii Technology stands firm in ensuring our company does its part.

Let’s begin with what air pollution is.

 Our air is toxic.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect” –</em> Aldo Leopold

On September 1, 2017, the Guardian took notice of a UK community taking air pollution monitoring into their own hands. Sarah Marsh reported on the large increase of people using home air quality monitoring kits to capture dangerous pollution levels. Apparently, there had been a growing number of citizens who were monitoring local air quality because of fear of their government officials inability to capture and relay the “dangerous” levels of pollution. The environmental charity, Friends of the Earth, stated that 70 local groups were now using their testing kits. They noted a “surprising” increase in people monitoring air quality for their own sake. What a stance to take!

The UK, and occupants of other countries, are concerned about air pollution. Who wouldn’t be? We can imagine possibly those who are not as aware of what air pollution consists of. So, let’s define it.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that “air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in breathable air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it is also called smog.”

Some air pollutants are poisonous. Inhaling them can increase the chance you will have health problems.

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are at greater risk from air pollution. Air pollution is not just outside, though - the air inside buildings can also be polluted and affect your health.

Where you live may also be the difference on the quality of the air you breathe.

For example, Inibii Technology is based in Dallas, Texas. Our air quality is at a 68. This means that our air quality is deemed acceptable; however, for some pollutants, there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

Where do you live? Want to find out the quality of the air you are breathing? Insert your zip code in this tool: https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.main

 

Air Pollution – What Art Thou?

Hazardous air pollutants can cause serious health concerns for many people. They are known for causing cancer and other impediments.

Types of Air Pollution:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Lead
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Particles
  • Sulfur Dioxide

Take a look below to learn about each pollutant. All are written in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s definitions.

– I AM CARBON MONOXIDE –

Carbon monoxide is a gas and is found in the air we breathe. High levels of carbon monoxide are poisonous to humans and, unfortunately, it cannot be detected by humans. It has no smell or taste and cannot be seen with our eyes.

The natural concentration of carbon monoxide in air is around 0.2 parts per million (ppm). That amount is not harmful to humans. Natural sources of carbon monoxide include volcanoes and bushfires.

The main sources of additional carbon monoxide are motor vehicle exhaust and some industrial activities, such as making steel.

Tobacco smoke is one of the main indoor sources of carbon monoxide.

  • I AM LEAD –

Lead is naturally occurring heavy metal that can be found in the Earth’s crust. Lead can be released into soil, air, and water through soil erosion, volcanic eruptions, sea spray, and bushfires. The natural concentration of lead in the air is less than 0.1 microgram per cubic meter.

Humans have used lead in various ways for thousands of years. Some of the past uses have left behind serious environmental and human health problems.

Mining and metal manufacturing are the largest sources of lead emissions in different parts of the world; however, there are many other sources, including: “waste incinerators, battery recycling, the production of lead fishing sinkers, cement, plaster, and concrete manufacturing, ceramic products; iron and steel; petroleum and coal products, paper, glass and metal products, motor vehicles and their parts.”

– I AM NITROGEN DIOXIDE –

Nitrogen dioxide is a foul-smelling gas. Some nitrogen dioxide is formed naturally in the atmosphere by lightning and some are produced by plants, soil, and water; but, only about 1% of the total amount of nitrogen dioxide found in our cities’ air is formed this way.

Nitrogen dioxide is an important air pollutant because it contributes to the formation of photochemical smog, which can have significant impacts on human health.

The major source of nitrogen dioxide in the world is the burning of fossil fuels:

Coal – Oil – Gas.

About 80 percent of the nitrogen dioxide in cities come from motor vehicle exhaust. Other sources of nitrogen dioxide are petroleum and metal refining, electricity generation from coal-power stations, other manufacturing industries and the processing of food.

– I AM OZONE –

Ozone is a gas formed when nitrogen oxides react with a group of air pollutants known as ‘reactive organic substances’ in the presence of sunlight. The chemicals that react to form ozone come from sources such as motor vehicle exhaust, oil refining, printing, petrochemicals, lawn mowing, aviation, bushfires and burning off. Motor vehicle exhaust fumes produce as much as 70 percent of the nitrogen oxides and 50 percent of the organic chemicals that form ozone (EPA, 2017).

The natural amount of ozone in the lower atmosphere is generally around 0.04 parts per million (ppm), and that amount is not harmful to human health. Vegetation can also emit organic chemicals that help form ozone. In Melbourne, up to 20 percent of these organic chemicals can come from vegetation and up to 64 percent in Brisbane.

– I AM PARTICLE MATTER –

Airborne particles are sometimes referred to as ‘particulate matter’ or ‘PM’. They include dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Some particles are large enough or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke, while others are so small they can only be detected with a microscope.

Some particles are emitted directly into the air from a variety of sources that are either natural or related to human activity. Natural sources include bushfires, dust storms, pollens and sea spray. Those related to human activity include motor vehicle emissions, industrial processes (i.e., electricity generation, incinerators and stone crushing), unpaved roads and wood-heaters.

**– I AM SULFUR DIOXIDE – **

Sulfur dioxide is a gas. It is invisible and has a nasty, sharp smell. It reacts easily with other substances to form harmful compounds, such as sulfuric acid, sulfurous acid, and sulfate particles.

About 99 percent of the sulfur dioxide in the air comes from human sources. The main source of sulfur dioxide in the air is an industrial activity that processes materials that contain sulfur, for example, the generation of electricity from coal, oil, or gas containing sulfur. Some mineral ores also contain sulfur, and sulfur dioxide is released when they are processed. In addition, industrial activities that burn fossil fuels containing sulfur can be important sources of sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide is also present in motor vehicle emissions, as the result of fuel combustion. In the past, motor vehicle exhaust was an important, but not the main, source of sulfur dioxide in the air. However, this is no longer the case.

**– I AM CARBON DIOXIDE – **

Carbon dioxide is often confused with carbon monoxide. These names sound the same, they both are colorless and odorless gases, and at high concentrations, both can be deadly. The difference is that CO2 is a common, naturally occurring gas required for all plant and animal life. CO is not common. It is most often a byproduct of the oxygen-starved combustion of fuel.

 

They are both very different, however.

 

In commercial buildings, lighting is the dominant category at about 25 percent, but space heating, cooling, and mechanical ventilation together account for more than 31 percent. The DOE estimates emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, from burning fossil fuels to generate energy (mainly natural gas on site and natural gas and coal for electricity production).

 

Air Pollution, why should I care about you?

“Air pollution is my biggest concern right now. Maybe because I live in Beijing, and in this city, we have such severe challenges due to bad air quality. It has affected our daily lives and health. I do not go outdoors because of it. I desperately hope that we can improve the current situation.” – Li Bingbing, China

There are many reasons why we should care about the air we breathe. Here are three:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that polluted air can make us sick.

“It can irritate your throat and make breathing difficult. Pollutants like tiny airborne particles and ground-level ozone can trigger respiratory problems make it especially hard for people with asthma. Today, nearly 30 million adults and children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma. Asthma sufferers can be severely affected by air pollution. Air pollution can also aggravate health problems for the elderly and others with heart or respiratory diseases.”

As if your health was not a price high enough to pay, here are some additional finds by the Healthy People 2000 report, highlighted by Cleaner and Greener.

The health costs of human exposure to outdoor air pollutants range from $40 to $50 billion. An estimated 50,000 to 120,000 premature deaths are associated with exposure to air pollutants. People with asthma experience more than 100 million days of restricted activity, costs for asthma exceed $4 billion, and about 4,000 people die of asthma.

As air pollution is a global issue, and the global environment and climate are severely affected by it. Take acid rain as an example, it is affecting our crops, trees, lakes and even buildings.

According to Air-Quality.org, “acid deposition and ozone exposure have increased considerably in the past 50 years in Asia, Europe and the United States, with many reports of tree/forest decline and increased mortality. In general, the more highly polluted forests have the higher rate of decline and mortality.”

 

What is being done to bring awareness to our communities about air pollution?

Explain to future generations it was good for the economy when they can’t farm the land, breathe the air, and drink the water.” – Unknown

While some people are coming across information on air pollution via happenstance, others are taking their knowledge to a whole new level. It is called Environmental Activism, and everyone involved finds it their duty to the clean up the environment through raised awareness.

Environmental Activism is populating our communities, social media, cinema, policy, and cyberspace – there is no escaping the knowledge, or at least, there is no readily available excuse for “not knowing” about the effects of pollution on the environment.

You can very well be an activist too!

Building energy conservation strategies are becoming a standard.

 “For plague and pestilence, plunder and pollution, the hazards of nature and the hunger of children are the foes of the nation. The earth, the sea, and the air are the concern of every nation.” –  John F. Kennedy

In recent years, organizations worldwide have encouraged energy efficiency in buildings. Whether in building codes or policy regarding buildings, energy efficiency is proven to complement initiatives that are meant to decrease energy consumption of buildings of all sizes.

 

The energy efficiency of new buildings determines the building sector’s energy consumption for far longer than other end-use sector components to determine their sector’s efficiency. Buildings will typically be constructed to be used for many decades and, in some cases, for more than a hundred years. In other energy-end uses, the capital lifetime for efficiency improvement will be, at most, a few decades.

Improvement of buildings’ efficiency at the planning stage is relatively simple while improvements after their initial construction are much more difficult: decisions made during a building’s project phase will hence determine consumption over much, if not all, of a building’s lifetime. Some measures to improve efficiency are possible only during construction or by major refurbishment, likely to happen only after several decades. Improvements will be very cost-effective, possibly at no cost, or at negative costs when implemented at a project stage, but can be expensive if never assumed at all.

 

Inibii takes a stand against air pollution.

 “If you really think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath whilst you count your money.” –  Dr. Guy McPherson

For reasons beyond the obvious, Inibii strives to demonstrate how a technology firm can bridge the gap between environmental need and human need. We focus specifically on helping building owners develop an energy consumption strategy to help them save money and alleviate the costs of impacting the environment from a pollution standpoint. Minimizing this impact not only helps pave the way for other building owners, but it creates a sustainable climate for our future generations.  We will continue to take a stand with those who pay attention to their impact on the environment and will forever continue to provide a forum to do so.

CONCLUSION

You do not have to be a building owner to make a difference in this world. You just have to pay attention to the impact you are making by involving yourself in the discussions that benefit the planet. When it comes down to it, the air we breathe is highly contaminated with toxins that are detrimental to our health, regardless of the pollutant. Will you take what you have learned and do something about it? It is our hope that you do.

Want to begin a discussion? Click here.

References:

Air is Life. Hazardous Gases

Retrieved from http://airis.life/what-is-air-pollution/hazardous-gases/

Environmental Protection Agency. Criteria Air Pollutants

Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/criteria-air-pollutants

Environmental Protection Agency. What are Hazardous Air Pollutants?

Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/haps/what-are-hazardous-air-pollutants

International Energy Agency. 2008. Energy Efficiency Requirements In Building Codes, Energy Efficiency Policies For New Buildings

Retrieved from https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/Building_Codes.pdf

Marsh, Sarah. 2017. UK citizens are taking air pollution monitoring into their own hands

Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/01/uk-citizens-are-taking-air-pollution-monitoring-into-their-own-hands

National Academics of Science and Engineering. 2011. Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health, Chapter: 8 Building Ventilation, Weatherization, and Energy Use

Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/read/13115/chapter/10

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