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Saturday, April 20, 2019

CO2 is fake air pollution -- Consider real air pollution, inside your home !

Health notice for those 
people who don't have time 
to read this long article:

-- When ultra-fines particulates soar
inside your home, while cooking
or cleaning, you will feel it in your eyes 
and throat.

-- If you feel it, you are almost certainly
harming your health !

-- If the house smells "good",
then you should be wondering 
what you are inhaling  !

-- Running an exhaust hood / fan
while cooking causes a steep 
reduction of household particulate 
levels, and childhood asthma attacks. 

-- Opening a window when mopping, 
or making toast, will help, if the outside
air is clean.

I enjoy cooking, but rarely cook 
hot meals at home, beyond two eggs 
every morning.

As a result, I'm very sensitive to
any smells in the house from cooking.

Especially when the wifey makes toast,
that any normal person would call
"burnt" !

The "smells" are from VOCs, 
or "volatile organic compounds". 

A VOC is any carbon-based chemical 
that evaporates at room temperature.

VOCs are responsible for the smell of toast, 
flowers, gasoline, etc.

A few VOCs have no odor.

Peel an orange, and you smell 
monoterpene VOCs.

Slicing through an onion causes
emission of syn-propanethial-S-oxide, 
a powerful VOC that causes tears.

There is also fine particulate matter
—particles small enough to reach 
deep inside our lungs. 

During meal cooking, they can reach levels 
that would cause a city to be officially labelled 
as "polluted".

Fine particulate matter can be “very unhealthy”,
based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 
(outdoor) Air Quality Index, for up to an hour,
while cooking a big meal, such as a 
Thanksgiving dinner.

If outdoor air reaches a "very unhealthy"level, 
a public alert is triggered, warning that even 
healthy people are at risk of serious damage
to the heart and lungs.

After the 1983 Clean Air Act, 
and creation of the EPA in 1970,
( Environmental Protection Agency )
the chemicals in outdoor air 
became federally regulated, 
with penalties for polluters. 

These days, a “very unhealthy” 
designation for outdoor air is rare. 

Emissions of many harmful gases, 
such as carbon monoxide, 
and sulfur dioxide, have fallen 
by about 50% since the 1970s.

Outdoor particulate matter counts 
fell by about 80% since the 1970s.

That's great, but in the U.S. we spend, 
on average, 90% to 95% of our lives indoors. 

Recent data, from the U.K., shows Britons 
are outside for just 5% of the day, on average,
— just one hour and twelve minutes.

Inside air is unregulated, and
usually ignored by researchers. 

HomechemHouse Observations of 
Microbial and Environmental Chemistry—
was the world’s first large-scale 
investigation of indoor air quality.

Homechem was designed to measure 
the chemistry of indoor air, not what 
that air is doing to our health. 

Early results show cooking and cleaning
are potentially more lethal than anyone 
had ever imagined.

In 1975, Charles Weschler, of Bell Labs, 
completed a Ph.D. in chemistry. 

Then he went to work investigating why
equipment in telephone switching offices 
was failing faster than expected.

The answer
Wire relays were being corroded by 
an acidic, invisible, indoor "smog."

In the 1980s, there were concerns about 
“sick-building syndrome,” reported by 
people working, or living, in new,
tightly sealed buildings.

It wasn’t until the after 9/11 that indoor-air 
research finally attracted some funding
—from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Sloan began supporting research into 
H.V.A.C. filtration systems.

Outdoor emissions from tailpipes, 
factories, or fertilizer-laden farms,
all undergo transformations into 
new combinations of chemicals, 
through a sequence of reactions. 

Indoor atmospheres were assumed 
to be much more static. 

Paula Olsiewski, a biochemist, 
asked Delphine Farmer, a chemist 
based at Colorado State University,
to develop new instruments and data 
on indoor atmospheric chemistry. 

Farmer recruited Marina Vance, 
and they gathered 20 research groups, 
from 13 universities, and launched
"Homechem", a large field study.

Homechem used the "UTest House", 
a twelve-hundred-square-foot prefab house 
that cost sixty thousand dollars.

At first, the instruments, originally 
designed for outdoor atmospheric 
measurement, had to be re-calibrated 
to deal with much higher concentrations 
of chemicals that build up indoors.  

Vance and Farmer devised a schedule 
that would organize real-life activities:
—cooking, cleaning, and 'hanging out',
into a series of controlled experiments.

An experiment might be to stir-fry lunch, 
while measuring airborne chemicals,
with an ultra-fine particle counter.

The  background level was 2,000 
particles per cubic centimeter 
BEFORE the cooking began. 

During cooking, the smell made 
the particle counter beep repeatedly 
-- hitting the top limit of the instrument !

“Above a hundred thousand, 
it’s unreliable.”, said one scientist !

Stir-fries cooked at high heat 
produced the most interesting 
organic aerosols. 

Baseline emissions
for individual events,
such as cooking a stir-fry, 
or making an English breakfast,
or mopping with Pine-Sol, 
or a bleach-based cleaner, 
had to be established.

Then scientists began to group
several activities together, 
to see if various emissions 
would react with each other.

They did react with each other,
producing temporary spikes 
of chloramines, a class of chemicals 
that inflames airway membranes. 

The combination of bleach-based mopping 
and gas-burner ignition was nitryl chloride, 
known for outdoor coastal smog formation. 

-- Cooking a stir-fry on a gas burner, 
rather than on an electric burner, 
produced much higher emissions.

-- Exhaled breath contains carbon dioxide, 
and also a host of organic chemicals 
such as isoprene, acetone, 
and acetaldehyde. 

-- Squalene, a primary ingredient in skin oil, 
is extremely reactive with ozone
( air travel exposes us to the higher 
ozone concentrations of the upper 
atmosphere, which often leaves 
passengers feeling dirty ).

-- There are chemical compounds 
from personal-care products too,
such as Axe body sprays.

-- Afternoon sunshine, filtered through 
a window, combined with emissions 
from a gas stove, was sufficient to produce 
chemical reactions similar to outdoors,
on a smoggy urban day.

Many studies found an association between 
outdoor air pollution, health and life expectancy.

Do the the brief moments we spend outdoors 
really have an huge impact on our health ?

What about the dozens of indoor chemicals,
measured by the Homechem team, known 
to be harmful to human health ?

A "worst case" cooking experiment
was cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. 

- The indoor carbon-dioxide reading 
peaked at 4,000 ppm, almost ten times
the average CO2 level outdoors.

- Fine particulate matter reached 
285 micrograms per cubic meter, 
which is a huge amount.

As little as a nanometre in diameter, 
ultra-fines are small enough to pass 
through into the bloodstream with ease. 

When ultra-fines soar, 
you will feel it in your 
eyes and throat.

Is inhaling particles
from diesel engines 
any worse than 
inhaling particles
from fried foods?

No one knows, so far, 
because the research 
hasn’t been done.

A move to outlaw toasters, bleach-based 
floor cleaners, and candles, seems unlikely.

But that doesn't mean nothing can be done.

It took the US  50 years to reduce 
outdoor ozone and particulate 

Don't wait 50 years:
-- Compounds emitted as steaks sear, 
and bread toasts, include brown carbon 
( particulate matter ), and VOCs from 
incomplete combustion.  

Turn on an exhaust fan venting outdoors,
or open a window, or cook the steaks 
outside ! 


According to the World Health Organization, 
India's capital city, New Delhi,
 has THE WORST outdoor air quality 
of any major city. 

During the dirtier Indian winter months, 
fine particulate matter levels are 
about 225 micrograms per cubic meter. 

That’s not much different than the 
280 micrograms per cubic meter 
that was reached during the final hour
of cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner 
inside a test house !