Monday, November 30, 2015

Unnoticed danger in the developing countries

Majority of the people living in the advanced society often overlook the problems in the third world countries. Only news people hear from the third world countries are new diseases that are spreading and maybe few major events happening. However when we look deeply into their lives, there are so many problems that something like indoor pollution, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, is not even being considered as a problem.

For us, everyday resources like water and electricity are taken for granted. For those living in the third world countries, they need alternatives. Majority of them use coal and biomass for energy needed to do even the simplest things like cooking stoves. Due to incomplete combustions at homes, women and children are exposed to significant levels of indoor air pollution daily.

Biomass fuel used for energy in poor nations is often made up of animal dung, crop residue, and wood. When these biomasses are burnt, the smoke coming out of the biomass is often very unhealthy for the humans. Majority of the smoke is made up of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, Sulphur oxides, formaldehyde, and polycyclic organic matter. These particles with diameters of below 10 microns can penetrate into the lungs and cause variety of health problems including respiratory illness, chronic pulmonary disease, cancer, tuberculosis, birth/infant problems, and cataract.

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The Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, or “E-cigs,” have recently garnered a huge following. Many people have taken up the habit in an attempt to quit smoking tobacco or to be able to smoke inside as it doesn’t produce clouds of smoke. Most electronic cigarettes contain propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings but while electronic cigarettes are not regulated some might contain more. The liquid nicotine is heated with an atomizer and creates an aerosol, also referred to as vapor. The user then inhales the vapor and receives trace amounts of nicotine. While research on the subject is relatively low because how new the product is, researchers have found ill effects stemming from electronic cigarettes. Just as if tobacco was smoked indoors, electronic cigarettes can also contribute to indoor air pollution. A recent study showed that electronic cigarettes contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. David Peyton, a chemistry professor from our own Portland State University understates “I think this is just one more piece of evidence amid a number of pieces of evidence that e-cigarettes are not absolutely safe.The study found that the liquid in electronic cigarettes, when heated at high temperatures, may actually produce more formaldehyde that traditional tobacco. Concordantly, second hand vapor from electronic cigarettes can also be harmful especially in infants and children. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to quit, but if you decide not to remain smoking electronic cigarettes outside as you would a traditional cigarette. 

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Your Furniture Might Be Making You Sick

Do you have furniture within your home? Like for most people, the answer may be “yes.” But did you know that home furniture may be one of the biggest causes of indoor air pollution? The furniture you have in your house may be emitting allergens and chemicals into the air that can have negative health effects. Pet dander, which is composed of tiny, microscopic flecks of skin from animals, can easily stick to furniture like couches, beds, and bedding. Dust mites, which are microscopic insect-like pests, also live in your furniture like couches, mattresses, and carpets. Both dander and dust mites are leading causes of allergic reactions leading to persistent coughing, sneezing, congestion, and asthma attacks.
Also, if your furniture was purchased before 2006 it most likely contains PBDEs which acts as a flame retardant. The chemical used with the intention of saving lives may be emitting dangerous toxins with serious health risks. PBDEs normally will not trigger an acute response in the body but the cumulative effects can be very serious. As exposure to PBDEs increase there is also an increased risk of permanent nervous and reproductive system damage. It has also been proven to show serious neurological damage in small children.
To limit the pollution within your home from dust mites and dander the best thing you can do is to keep your household clean. Vacuum and change your bedding frequently and always remember to change your mattresses every couple of years. To limit the PBDEs within your home do your homework and check with the manufacturer about the product. Rid your house of any furniture with PBDEs and definitely replace any furniture with holes because PBDEs can easily escape through small openings. 

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Ever thought about the air you breath…inside your Car?

When we think of indoor air quality we limit ourselves to homes and buildings. What we forget is that most American’s spend a significant amount of time in their cars. They use them to run errands such as getting groceries, going to and from work, appointments etc. Getting to and from destinations is a huge part of our lives. When we are in our cars we don’t think about the pollutants that our cars hold. Cars have very little space and they are very compact, the pollutants that the air conditioning systems sucks in from the outside can be dangerous. These include vehicle exhaust, road dust, greenhouse gases, cigarette smoke etc. The cleanliness of your car is very important because it can be overlooked. On rainy days mud and water can be tracked from your children's soccer game and this can be a pathway to mold and other toxic pollutants. Vacuuming your car frequently, airing it out while driving, using your air conditioning system as little as possible can all be ways to help decrease these pollutants. 

To learn more about the hidden dangers inside your car and to decrease the pollutants, visit the following sites;