If We Don’t Spare the Air, Who Will?

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If We Don’t Spare the Air, Who Will?

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:22 am

If We Don’t Spare the Air, Who Will?
April 13, 2015 by Jeremy Nowak.

Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner! It is the time of year for outdoor grilling, barbecues, and beach bonfires, but while these activities guarantee fun for all, when was the last time a group of friends thought about the contribution of these activities to the air quality of their surroundings? One bonfire may not seem to contribute much, but what happens when we take into account all of the beach bonfires and outdoor grilling that happens daily throughout the Bay Area? What then is our overall impact on particulate matter and aerosol formation in our atmosphere?

Aerosols are an assembly of particles in the air, ranging from natural particles like the salt water from sea spray to man-made particles like car emissions or factory smoke. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies aerosols based on their size: particles less than 100 nanometers in diameter are classified as ultrafine, those less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are deemed fine particles, and those between 2.5 and 10 micrometers are “inhalable coarse particles.” Depending on the type of particle, aerosols may affect visibility, cause aesthetic damage to building materials, or contribute to ozone loss. Furthermore, particulate matter has been linked to an overall negative epidemiological impact on humans, triggering asthma and increased irritation of airwaysspare the air.

California is known for poor outdoor air quality in urban areas, but there are numerous organizations that have attempted to address the issue. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) passes legislation regarding stationary sources of particulate matter in the Bay Area. This organization is responsible for Spare the Air days, which occur throughout winter and summer. When there is a high concentration of particulate matter or ground level ozone that violates the EPA’s federal health-based standards, a Spare the Air alert is issued. Bay Area residents are advised to reduce driving, aerosol can usage, or wood burning. Violators of these policies during Spare the Air Days can be subjected to a government issued fine or mandatory attendance of an air quality class.

On March 31, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article discussing the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s proposal to ban open-air fireplaces from Bay Area residences. During the winter months, 39% of the aerosolized fine particulate matter comes from wood smoke. The BAAQMD says that eliminating these fireplaces and replacing them with fireplace inserts or stoves, which filter fine particulate matter before release to the atmosphere, could cause this percentage to drop dramatically.

No matter the activity, be it enjoying a fire during the winter or roasting hot dogs before a Giants game, we need to understand the impact of our actions on the atmosphere and air quality. While conditions have improved in the past decade, California as a whole still has at least six of the top ten cities in the U.S. in terms of air pollution, in the separate categories of ozone, year round particle pollution, and short term particle pollution. There is no overnight legislation we can pass, or a miracle cure to reduce our effect on air quality, but as Berkeley and Bay Area residents, we can all do our share to improve air quality by biking to work, using public transportation, and reducing the amount of biomass burning we partake in during the summer. Air quality can be dramatically influenced by our actions, so we should all do our part during these summer months to spare the air.

http://www.theberkeleygraduate.com/2015 ... -who-will/
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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