(Republished blog from December 9, 2019)
As with water pollution, air pollution travels. Our Washington County, Pa. has a fully developed “gas patch” with well sites, compressor stations and cryogenic gas plants — over 5 dozen gas processing facilities — mostly upwind from us. This Marcellus Shale gas patch is still growing, largely to provide ethane, propane and methane for global exports, via truck, rail and pipeline.
Image: One of the latest big additions to our county’s air pollution, as well as those living down wind in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Living in a valley serves further to trap air pollution, especially during air inversions. Friends living closer to gas processing had already followed the recommendations of health professionals and purchased portable air cleaners years ago.
Image: The 1948 Donora smog was a historic smog event that killed 20 people and caused respiratory problems for 6,000 people of the 14,000 population of Donora, Pennsylvania, a mill town in the Monongahela River Valley, 24 miles (39 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. Sixty years later, the incident was described by The New York Times as “one of the worst air pollution disasters in the nation’s history”. Even 10 years after the incident, mortality rates in Donora were significantly higher than those in other communities nearby. Source
It was time for us to buy a big stocking stuffer — the highly recommended Austin Healthmate 400. While it retails for nearly $600, there are discounts available to those who shop around.
Austin Air Healthmate 400
Using a Portable Air Cleaner Source
The ROCIS group, which also presented at the Shale and Public Health conference (video here) recommends the next higher-up model for those close to VOC’s and more of the oil and gas type air toxins such as formaldehyde and benzenes — the Austin Healthmate Plus.
The Healthmate Plus retails for just over $700, with the only difference being an enhanced filter element, which also lasts up to 5-years. Shipping is fast and free, so once you add sales tax (even if paying full retail) the purchase price is only 42-cents per day, or about $12 per month. It doesn’t use very much electricity, which is good, because it should be operated 24-7 for best results.
ROCIS also recommends the use of a less expensive “homemade” setup for those near air pollution, involving two parts: A 20-inch box fan with a MERV 13 air filter. This one is particularly useful for summertime, when the windows are open.
Image: Box Fan and MERV 13 Source
Citizen Science: Indoor Air Monitoring
Samantha Totoni, ROCIS; Annette & Preston Shimer, LWV members
Study: Air pollution linked to more strokes in people with AfibDon Hopey – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Sep 24, 2020
Individuals who suffer from a common heart ailment and also live in areas of Allegheny County where air pollution is the worst are significantly more likely to have a stroke, according to a new study. Researchers at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine identified and followed 31,400 county residents from 2007 through 2017 who had atrial fibrillation, or Afib, and found those living in high pollution neighborhoods had a 20% higher stroke risk than those living where the air was cleanest. Afib is a heart rhythm disorder that affects more than 2.7 million Americans.
Hazy Pittsburgh skyline on September 23, 2020