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5 Things That May Surprise You About Air Pollution

When you think about air pollution, you probably think of major cities known for industrial work that seem to have permanent smog clouds hanging over the skyline. Maybe you picture Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics, or Los Angeles on a busy driving weekend. Those certainly represent a good example of air pollution and its visible effects. The usual suspects, factory fossil fuels and motor vehicle emittance, are well known. According to a recent study shared by CNN, deaths from air pollution and toxic chemical pollution have increased in the last 20 years and are responsible for 1 in 6 deaths worldwide.

City of Beijing with air pollution

The effects on a human’s respiratory health have long been studied by the medical community. That does not mean, however, that they are the only causes and effects that should be on your radar. In fact, some of both may surprise you.

#1 Do legal limits reduce total air pollution? 

In an effort to combat air pollution, the World Health Organization has implemented Air Pollution limits for nations. The initiative was started to give politicians a common goal of limiting air pollution in their home countries, providing a benchmark for industry, central planning, and politics. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectations, especially in urban areas. For example, in the United Kingdom, 75% of urban areas are well over their legal limits of pollutants. In India, the country saw an increase in cities who were above their pollution limit, going from 102 to 132. In 2020, Los Angeles saw its highest level of air pollution in history, missing its clean air goals by a wide margin. The harsh reality is that these limits are not feasible with current emissions.

#2 Does your car keep you safe from air pollution?

When commuting, you may think being inside your car keeps you from inhaling toxic pollutants. Unfortunately, a study in the UK found that this is not true. In fact, you inhale less pollutants as a cyclist or walking pedestrian. While you sit in traffic, you are victim to a stream of pollutants coming from all the vehicles directly in front of you. Being stuck in your car for an extended period in traffic makes the inside air quality significantly worse than the outside. Cyclists and walkers are less likely to be stuck behind a constant exhaust of pollutants, and thus avoid the higher levels of exposure that one gets in the car. To combat this, use your vehicle’s recycled air feature if it has one or operate a WYND portable air purifier while you drive. 

Image of WYND Plus Portable Air Purifier being used in the cup holder of a car

#3 Are car company air pollution tests reliable?

We mentioned earlier the limits set on air pollution. One of the ways in which governments tracked toxic pollutants was to perform emissions tests on motor vehicles that use diesel fuel. While well-intentioned, it quickly became apparent that companies would do their best to sneak around it. The most high-profile example was Volkswagen’s admission that they programmed software to try to cheat the tests conducted by government regulators. The engines emitted more than 40 times their legal limit when driven on the road. The company had to plead guilty in the United States’ judiciary and pay a criminal fine of $2.8 billion, bringing their total fines to nearly $30 billion. Volkswagen was not the only manufacturer to admit guilt of cheating emissions tests, as Mercedes-Benz paid $2.2 billion in fines in a criminal plea deal. In response, the global electric car market has exploded, as people hope to be part of the solution against toxic pollutants.

#4 How does air pollution affect your health?

The health risk of air pollution has been well-documented by the medical community. Toxic pollutants increase your risk of lung cancer, respiratory illness, and premature death. It is quite costly on the health of humanity. However, the cost of air pollution is not specific just to physical health. It has a massive impact on the medical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as other businesses. The World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation conducted a study to estimate the labor and resource effects of air pollution and found an estimated 5.5 million lives were lost prematurely to disease related to toxic pollutants. It estimates premature death from air pollution costs the global economy $225 billion in lost labor income. Further, the burden on global public health systems was thought to be around $5 trillion dollars. Not only is there a health incentive to cleaner air, but clear economic ones too.

#5 Do plants improve indoor air quality? 

Image of indoor plants

While this may not be as big of a surprise as some of the others, your houseplant décor can do a world of good for the air quality in your home. Plants commonly found in homes, like palms and ivies, are natural sources of air purifying. However, their effectiveness is not conclusive as significant purifiers. If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, you are much better off with a commercial solution such as WYND Technologies. Solutions like WYND allow you to view real-time data and have artificial intelligence monitor the quality of your home’s air.

Another area in which green is good with regards to air quality is exercise. If you run, walk, or cycle for physical activity, then you should try to do so in a green area. Whether it is a park, trail, or garden, you will be inhaling much higher quality air than along the street or in a densely populated area. In the same vein, exercising early in the morning is the healthiest time of day to do so. It allows you to breathe a higher quality air, as the emissions from that day’s traffic has not yet polluted it. 

Image of two people running outdoors

Whether you were unfamiliar with the economic and workforce impacts of air pollution or did not know the benefits of being out and about earlier in the day, there is always something surprising to learn about pollutants. If you are interested in improving the air quality of your home or business, please visit the WYND Technologies website, and see all the good it could do for you and your health.

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