PM 2.5: Air Quality Issue to be Aware of If You Want to Live a Long Life.
You might notice that the new generation of people in urban areas choose various lifestyles to take care of themselves, whether it is clean eating, taking vitamins and supplements, detoxification, consuming organic products, using contoured cervical pillows, wearing foot-healthy shoes, using massage chairs, etc. While many try to take good care of our health, one thing has continuously been harmful to us and is hard to avoid. That harmful thing is toxic air pollution, which makes city people escape to the countryside during holidays for air quality better than in the capital city.
How does getting close to and being in nature, surrounded by air and an environment clear of pollution, benefit our health? What are the signals of poor air quality? Let's find out in this article.
Why must we not take the quality of air around us for granted?
Anyone who has followed the news about toxic PM2.5 dust might know that, on some days, the particulate matter in Bangkok metropolitan region goes up to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, which exceeds the standard level. Many offices request cooperation from their employees to work from home and remind them to always wear an N95 mask. Nevertheless, apart from these tiny particles, don’t forget there are more harmful things hidden in the air surrounding us, e.g., smokes from vehicles and burnings of waste, germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and pollens.
The reason why we must take air quality more seriously is that PM2.5 in the air we inhale could intrude into our bloodstream. Then, it would be transported to other cells throughout our body, causing chronic inflammation. Inhaling an air pollutant regularly for a long time causes our body to show some abnormal conditions such as coughing, nasal congestion, burning nose, burning eyes, eye irritation, conjunctivitis, nosebleed, chest tightness, and an allergic reaction. These effects increase the risk of having pneumonia, lung cancer, respiratory tract infection, asthma, persistent sore throat, heart disease, and other sicknesses.
Understanding sick building syndrome and its causes
The quality of air is not measured from an environment outside buildings only. For people working in a building, if you notice symptoms such as headache, feeling nauseous, dizziness, burning throat, itchy eye, tickling nose, itchy skin, shortness of breath, coughing, and sneezing while in the building and those symptoms gradually go away when you leave the building, that might be the sign indicating that you are having the sick building syndrome – SBS.
Although the causes of sick building syndrome cannot be certainly identified, it is assumed that the air quality inside buildings play an important role in causing symptoms. Things to be aware of include:
- Dust, especially on carpets, ceilings, and curtains, which can spread or circulate in an air conditioning system of a building.
- Unsuitable air conditioning and ventilation system, an insufficient amount of air circulating into a building.
- Fungi on walls or ceilings.
- A spreading of chemicals like glues, thinners, detergents, pesticides, air fresheners, chemicals from copying machines, and cigarette smoke.
- Building materials like interior paints could spread out volatile organic compounds.
Environmental-Friendly Green Building Concept for good air quality and environment
Today, many public and private agencies increasingly prioritize the concept of designing buildings to conserve energy and protect the environment. This includes designing a better ventilation system, creating enough windows, or installing an air circulation system so that air inside a building can flow out, and the air outside the building can flow in at any time. For existing buildings, air purifiers can be helpful. Removing or controlling sources of air pollution or germs is necessary. Using good-conditioned vacuum cleaners and regularly cleaning spots where germs can spread and where dust accumulates are also important.
Like others, the whole building of MedPark Hospital was designed to be a positive pressure building, using an aeration system with a rate high enough to maintain the pressure inside the building to always be higher than outside. The air outside the building will flow into high-efficiency filters that can filter out and remove PM 2.5 particles, dust, germs, and bacteria in the air, while the temperature and humidity will be reduced to be close to the air inside the building before being let to flow into the building. With a higher pressure inside the building, the air inside will flow out of the building constantly without recirculation. That means the ventilation rate of this building is higher than other buildings. The air throughout the building is also clean, especially in important areas like ICU rooms, which effectively reduces infection and allergic reactions for patients and clients. Moreover, the building was installed with quadruple-layer windows to filter out sunlight and reduce the heat entering the building, resulting in a decrease in power consumption. The building was certified a green building, with the gold rating system, by the U.S. Green Building Council in the United States of America.
Agencies are now attentive to the PM 2.5 crisis, signaling a good start for improving air quality in Thailand. However, ordinary people like us can also come together to easily improve the air quality by removing sources of dust at our own houses, reducing private vehicle use, taking public transit more, and choosing cars with low fuel consumption or switching to electric vehicles instead.