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Air Pollution FAQ

  1. What is air pollution and what causes it?
  2. How can you protect yourself? 
  3. Indoor air pollution vs. outdoor air pollution.
  4. What is an AQI (Air Quality Index?)

1. What is air pollution and what causes it?

Air pollution is made of two distinct categories:

  • Gases and Vapours
  • Particulates

These pollutants come from the following sources:

  • Vehicles
  • Industry
  • Electricity Generation
  • Construction & Mining
  • Agriculture/Farming

These types of pollution can be put into two categories. 

 

GASES & VAPOURS

  • Nitrogen Oxide
  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Low level Ozone
  • Hydrocarbon Chemicals

These pollutants all require an activated carbon filter media to absorb them. You’ll find activated carbon mediums in good quality face masks and air purifiers.

 

PARTICULATES

You’ve probably heard a lot about PM2.5, or PM10 or even PM0.3. PM stands for Particulate Matter. What are they and how are they important to your health?

First, there are two categories of particulates: INHALABLE and RESPIRABLE.

INHALABLE PARTICULATE MATTER

These are particles like PM10 which big enough to be trapped within the nasal hairs and the mucous membranes at the back of the throat. These larger particles can be eliminated by coughing, sneezing and swallowing 

RESPIRABLE PARTICULATE MATTER

These are particles like PM2.5 or smaller that pass beyond the nasal hairs and the mucous membranes of the throat into the lung sacs and subsequent blood barrier. These particulates can carry carcinogenic chemicals used in petrol (benzene, pyrene, etc.) to the blood barrier. 

Particles smaller than 2.5mm penetrate deep into the lungs and affect the body more systematically leading to diseases like stroke, heart disease, in addition to cancers and other chronic lung diseases. 

 

SOURCES OF PARTICULATE MATTER

  • Asbestos dust from brake linings
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Road dust
  • Black smoke from diesel emissions
  • Coal Burning
  • Any other material which is solid in nature
 

2. How can you protect yourself? 

Get a good quality air purifier for your home. Buy within your budget. They are very cheap to run, just like a normal fan. Pay attention to how big a space that the air purifier can clean.

Get a good anti-pollution mask. The standard medical mask that everyone wears in Taiwan is not effective enough. It does not create an effective seal around your face and that means you are still breathing in all of the particulates, gases and vapours. Make sure you wear your mask while walking, cycling or riding a scooter in the city where there are lots of vehicles. This is especially important during peak traffic times.

Get an air quality monitor which will help you understand more about the air in your home and how effective your efforts are to keep the air clean.

3. Indoor air pollution vs. outdoor air pollution.

We spend more than 80% of our day indoors, either at home, work or school. 

Very simply, if you are not using an air purifier or some kind of indoor air filtration in say, a central air conditioning system, then the air quality indoors is the same as outside. Sometimes it is worse when you consider cooking, aerosols, cigarette smoke etc. 

You can check the quality of the air indoors easily using an air quality monitor like the Laser Egg. It will give you accurate readings every 0.1 seconds. If you are using an air purifier already, then the Laser Egg will let you know where you need to make adjustments. For example, we have visited many schools and offices that say they have a central air conditioning system with a filter. When we showed them the readings on the Laser Egg it was clear that their system wasn’t filtering the air correctly, sometimes not at all.

4. What is an AQI (Air Quality Index?)

An air quality index (AQI) is a number used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become. As the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience increasingly severe adverse health effects. Different countries have their own air quality indices, corresponding to different national air quality standards.

Taiwan, for many years has followed the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI). The PSI is based on a scale devised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to provide a way for broadcasts and newspapers to report air quality on a daily basis. The PSI has been used in a number of countries including the United States and Singapore.

Since 1999, the United States EPA has replaced the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) with the Air Quality Index (AQI) to incorporate new PM2.5 and ozone standards.

The USA uses the AQI system which is a stricter system because their society is further along in the industrialization process.

5. Still got questions?

If you haven’t found what you’re looking for in our FAQ section, then please contact us and we’ll do our best to assist you.