Arizona’s Air Quality Conundrum

On the subject of our atmosphere, there has been substantial dialogue and debate over greenhouse gases, global warming, acid rain, and humanity’s responsibility in the generation thereof, and, indeed, these issues are rather contentious in the political sphere. Where public discourse has neglected to apply appropriate deliberation and examination is in the general quality of our air and the health effects stemming from poor air quality. In addition, there is not enough public awareness of the effective and actable solutions to air quality problems, nor is there enough individual responsibility to enact those solutions.

Poor air quality has a hefty tally of proven adverse health effects. Air pollutants not only exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and trigger aggravated asthmatic episodes, but they can actually contribute to the outset of chronic asthma. According to chemists at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, air pollutants containing persistent free radicals (PRFs) affect the lungs in similar ways to tobacco smoke and are suspected to contribute to the presence of smoking-related diseases, such as cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer, in lifetime non-smokers. Cystic fibrosis patients who are exposed to pollutants stemming from industrial and automotive emissions or improper use and maintenance of HVACS experience a drastic decrease in lung function. Smog has been linked to chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, and other lower respiratory illnesses. Air pollution is also statistically related with higher rates of fatigue, allergies, heart attack, stroke, DNA damage, and premature birth. According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report, 79% of Maricopa county citizens luchtkwaliteit meten in huis are at high risk for respiratory complications as a result of poor air quality. Moreover, the World Health Organization has concluded that 41,200 people die per year in the United States from causes “attributable to environmental risk factors.” As one might presuppose, poor air quality has the worst effects on the demographics least capable to combat the irritants in our air: the elderly, the young, and the chronically ill.

Because of our concept of public space, the quality of our air may appear to be strictly a matter of public policy, something far beyond an individual’s control, something that only corporate planning or government regulation could alter. To an extent air quality is a public concern, because most of the pollutants in our air are created by urban, industrial, commercial, or environmental factors, but it is just as much an individual concern. All of those urban, industrial, and environmental pollutants that plague the atmosphere also enter into homes at alarming rates. Once these pollutants enter into a home, they are typically trapped there by humidity, air pressure flow, HVACs, and building envelope. Then, the chemicals used in daily domestic life compound these outdoor pollutants. The outcome is that the concentration of the pollutants in the average home is actually about two times as dense as the concentration of those same pollutants in the atmosphere. If one considers that the average person spends the bulk of the day indoors, it becomes clear why indoor air quality is rapidly becoming a major issue.