Gas Patch Home Air Cleaner

Breathing clean air near Marcellus Shale drilling?

(Republished blog from December 9, 2019)

While it was water pollution that first raised my concerns about fracking, air pollution soon gained an equal rank. Presentations by health experts at the recent Shale and Public Health conference raised my concerns further.

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.

Hills and valleys in the Pittsburgh region

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

‘Stocking Stuffer’

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.

According to the Austin website, there are multiple health benefits with the Healthmate Plus:
  • Eases headaches and reduces nausea related to chemical exposure
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Eases coughing, wheezing and sneezing
  • Reduces dry mouth and runny nose
  • Sounder sleep
  • Reduced snoring
  • Lessen night time allergies and asthma attacks
On a budget?

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

Here’s the video of the November 19th presentation:

Citizen Science: Indoor Air Monitoring
Samantha Totoni, ROCIS; Annette & Preston Shimer, LWV members

Key points:
  • About 90-percent of our time is spent indoors.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa is the 7th worst city in the U.S. for year-round particle (PM2.5) pollution
Here’s to cleaner air (..and water)!

Study: Air pollution linked to more strokes in people with Afib
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.

Don Hopey – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Sep 24, 2020

Hazy Pittsburgh skyline on September 23, 2020

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