Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term. The most harmful air pollutant to human health is called PM 2.5, short for particle matter that’s less than 2.5 microns in diameter. PM affects more people than any other pollutant. The major components of PM are sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water. It consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air, which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs causing long-term health problems like asthma and chronic lung disease.
On Dec. 14, 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened the nation’s air quality standards for fine particle pollution to improve public health protection by revising the primary annual PM2.5 standard to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3 ) and retaining the 24- hour fine particle standard of 35 µg/m3
As per American Lung Association (http://www.stateoftheair.org/2015/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html) these are one of most polluted cities in America
|By Ozone||By Year Round Particle Pollution||By Short-Term Particle Pollution|
|#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA||#1: Fresno-Madera, CA||#1: Fresno-Madera, CA|
|#2: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA||#2: Bakersfield, CA||#2: Bakersfield, CA|
|#3: Bakersfield, CA||#3: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA||#3: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA|
|#4: Fresno-Madera, CA||#4: Modesto-Merced, CA||#4: Modesto-Merced, CA|
|#5: Sacramento-Roseville, CA||#5: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA||#5: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA|
|#6: Houston-The Woodlands, TX||#6: El Centro, CA||#6: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA|
|#7: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK||#7: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA||#7: Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT|
|#8: Modesto-Merced, CA||#8: Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, OH-KY-IN||#8: Logan, UT-ID|
|#9: Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ||#9: Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV||#9: Fairbanks, AK|
|#10: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ||#10: Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH||#10: Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV|
Self – protection measures
Air conditioners: When using air conditioners set the button on inner circulation.
Masks: Wearing N95 masks will provide effective protection against PM2.5 but ensure you are wearing the mask correctly with a tight seal around the face. N95 masks can be purchased in pharmacies and can be used multiple times. Only when it’s hard to breathe while wearing, should you dispose of it and buy a new one.
Reduce activity: Try to stay indoors during the most polluted hours of a day, which is normally from dawn till dusk. Do less physical activities outdoors.
- One strap paper masks and ordinary surgical masks has no effect on PM2.5 prevention.
- While wearing the N95 mask ensure there is a tight seal around the face. Deeply inhale and exhale to test whether the mask is air-tight.