Wildfires and Air Pollution

The last few months and due to the lack of rain and the climate change some places in the world are facing extreme wildfires, most of the times manmade. Places like Galicia-Spain, Portugal and California-USA have been facing a great danger. The wildlife has been left without its habitat and humans without clean air. Unfortunately this kind of distraction creates enormous quantities of air pollution. A lot of times the air pollution spreads downwind from the fire source and even reaches other countries, so-called Cross Border pollution.

What kind of pollutants do the wildfires produce?

Mainly wood smoke contains a mixture of PM2.5, PM10 particles and various gases. More precisely wildfire smoke is a mixture of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds VOCs and a wide rage of particulate matter PMs that include ash, black carbon BC and organic carbon, such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons PAHs.

The smoke is a very complicated mixture of pollutants in the air, and it affects human health. It comes from lots of different sources, including trees, decomposed leaves, animals, forest litter and sometimes from local houses. Even the composition of the air pollution is depending on the way the smoke is created, for example by smouldering or flaming.

How to protect yourselves?

If you live close to a forest then ask your local authorities how you can help to protect the Earth’s lungs. If you happen to be near a wildfire/forest fire then remember to wear a N95 or N99 face mask. Don’t expose yourself in the smoke for a long time, even the face masks have a limit. If you live near an ongoing wildfire, close the windows and seal your house from the outdoor air. Stay away from your house for a few days, ask a family member who lives far away from the fire to host you.

Request

I can’t stand reading or watching on TV news regarding wildfires. The damage is huge especially when humans are responsable for them. My heart breaks every time. Please respect the environment. Thank you.

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DIY PM Monitor Take 2

Do you remember this DIY Low cost DIY PM Monitor, there is a new and better version available.

The new version offers a low cost housing and the software is more mature now. The software is open source, on github, and there are some pre-built images on their website.

A great new feature is the ability to store of a few days of data on the device which makes it more robust to internet outages and usable for periods away from wifi access, and it records every sample from the PMS5003 sensor which is more that one per second to better capture quick changes and better for mapping walking around.

You can find all the instructions on their website.

Why I am in favour of Air Quality Sensors

Why am I in favour of air quality sensors and I support all AQI monitors and sensors independently their price tag?

Because they help us literally See the Air. They are the only tools we can use to get hard evidence that air pollution exists and raise awareness. Someone could say that inaccurate and probably cheap sensors are useless and I will agree in some level but you have to keep in mind that not everyone can afford a +1000$ sensor. Those “cheap” sensors will allow people to discover what they breathe in some level, act on it and will make them more conscious about the pollution. I truly believe that sensors will shape future societies.

Sometimes when I talk to people about air pollution some of them don’t seem to understand that air pollution exists. They have never thought that the black smoke exiting a car is a harmful pollution. They have never thought that lighting the fireplace for a “cosy” moment has effects and consequences. They have never thought that air pollution is everywhere and can affect everyone.

When evidences are presented, people start to think and wonder. A fundamental action which distinguish humans from animals. At that moment people make a huge difference as human beings and the Oxygen that is consumed by them is not a waste. Education is the key to a better future.