Webinar: Clear the Air: Healthy Indoor Air for Businesses and Tenant Spaces

Jun 28, 2022 10 am CDT
Register here.

This webinar will discuss ways small business owners and building managers can ensure healthy indoor air quality for staff and customers.

Speakers

  • Scott Williams, Williams Building Systems Engineering
  • John Zai, University of Colorado, Boulder

Air pollution more likely to harm people of color in Wisconsin, especially in Milwaukee, study finds

Read the full story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

People of color in Wisconsin are more likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution than white people, creating the third-largest disparity in the country, according to a state environmental advocacy group. 

Clean Wisconsin analyzed data from a recent study from the University of Illinois, which calculated the exposure to fine particulate matter in the air among different racial-ethnic groups. The study, overall, found that people of color are exposed to more particulate air pollution than white residents. 

In Wisconsin, analysts found one of the largest racial disparities between the impacts of dangerous particulate matter. 

Community-led science uncovers high air pollution from fracking in Ohio county

Read the full story from the Columbia Climate School.

Some residents of Belmont County in eastern Ohio have long suffered from headaches, fatigue, nausea and burning sensations in their throats and noses. They suspected these symptoms were the result of air pollution from fracking facilities that dominate the area, but regulators dismissed and downplayed their concerns.

With the technical assistance of volunteer scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, MIT and the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange, local advocacy groups set up their own network of low-cost sensors. They found that the region’s three EPA sensors were not providing an accurate picture: The sensors revealed concerning levels of air pollution, and correlations between local spikes and health impacts.

The results are published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Why Indoor Chemistry Matters

Download the document.

People spend the vast majority of their time inside their homes and other indoor environments where they are exposed to a wide range of chemicals from building materials, furnishings, occupants, cooking, consumer products, and other sources. Despite research to date, very little is known about how exposures to indoor chemicals across complex chemical phases and pathways affect human health. The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased public awareness of indoor environments and shed light on the many outstanding questions about how best to manage chemicals indoors. This report identifies gaps in current research and understanding of indoor chemistry and new approaches that can be applied to measure, manage, and limit chemical exposures. Why Indoor Chemistry Matters calls for further research about the chemical transformations that can occur indoors, pathways and timing of indoor chemical exposure, and the cumulative and long-term impacts of exposure on human health. Research priorities should consider factors that contribute to measurable environmental health disparities that affect, vulnerable populations, such as the age, location, and condition of buildings that can alter exposures to indoor chemicals.

Measurement and Monitoring Methods for Air Toxics and Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Atmosphere grants

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

EPA’s Science to Achieve Results Program (STAR) awarded over $4 million to seven universities to advance air measurement and monitoring methods for air toxics and contaminants of emerging concern in the atmosphere.

Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), often referred to as air toxics, are a subset of air pollutants known or suspected to be acutely toxic or cause chronic human health effects, or to have adverse environmental and ecological effects. Contaminants of emerging concern are chemicals that are not commonly monitored in the environment but are present in the environment and have the potential to cause adverse human health or environmental effects. These air contaminants tend to pose greater risks in urban areas because these areas have large populations and a higher concentration of emission sources, and there is extensive evidence that minority and low-income communities are disproportionally burdened with exposures to air toxics. 

The goals of this research portfolio include advancements in measurement techniques that will support state, community and Tribal air monitoring efforts to reduce exposures to air toxics and emerging contaminants of concern and to address environmental justice issues; and improved source measurement methods that can be used to quantify emissions, develop emissions inventories, inform the development of effective emission control strategies, and ultimately improve public health.

HVAC system uses only outside air

Read the full story from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Purdue researchers combine membranes technology with HVAC system to to create a 100-percent outdoor air system.

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers find significant health benefits to air pollution reduction policies in NYC

Read the full story from the University of North Carolina.

A new study from scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill estimates reducing emissions in New York City could save more than 400 lives every year.

Researchers at the UNC Institute for the Environment modeled five sustainability policy scenarios in New York City and found a significant reduction in health risks associated with a decrease in air pollution based on the policies. The results were published this week in Environmental Science & Technology.

Pregnant people are at ‘greater risk’ in states hit hard by wildfire smoke, air pollution, new report shows

Read the full story at The 19th.

The American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report shows wildfires and heat are making air quality worse for those living in the West.

Chicago’s air pollution hotspots: New sensor network reveals neighborhood air quality disparities

Read the full story at MuckRock.

This investigation, “Chicago’s Air Pollution Hotspots,” is a collaboration between the Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ, the Cicero Independiente and MuckRock, with support from Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation. Reporting by Smarth Gupta, Dillon Bergin, María Inés Zamudio, Charmaine Runes and Brett Chase. Derek Kravitz of MuckRock, Dave Newbart of the Sun-Times and Matt Kiefer of WBEZ edited.

When Irma Morales moved to Little Village nearly three decades ago, she vividly remembers the thin layer of dust blanketing the ground. The single mother of five lived about a mile from a coal plant.

“When I walked outside, my shoes would be covered with dust,” Morales said in Spanish.

Morales joined the 12-year community-led effort to close the Crawford Power Plant.

“We shut them down,” said Morales, adding she was diagnosed with a brain tumor during the campaign. “But for what? So they can bring more diesel trucks?”

The plant closed in 2012 and was replaced by a 1 million-square-foot Target warehouse bringing an estimated hundreds of trucks per day to the neighborhood. Morales and other protesters tried to stop the development.

Even the building process polluted the neighborhood. A botched implosion of a 378-foot smokestack from the old coal plant left her neighborhood blanketed in dust in April 2020.

“Why are you selling … [our health] to the highest bidder?” Morales asked of city officials, saying her neighborhood is basically a “sacrifice zone” for industry.

Indeed, in one of the most wide-scale surveys of air quality in Chicago, some stretches of this mostly Mexican community were found to have the highest pollution levels in the city, along with portions of Austin, Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Irving Park and Avondale that see heavy traffic or are near industrial areas, an analysis of readings from newly-installed air sensors show.

The data is supplied by Microsoft, which consulted with the city and community groups before installing 115 of the sensors mostly on CTA bus shelters last summer, and has been collecting readings from them every five minutes over the past 10 months.

Even with more than 100 sensors, it’s not nearly enough to cover the entire city and that inhibits a complete analysis of pollution for large swaths of the Southeast and Far South sides — areas long known to have poor air quality. Still, the data provide some of the most extensive hyperlocal measurements of air quality in Chicago, specifically in the high-pollution months of July through October 2021.

This story is part of a months-long reporting collaboration, “Chicago’s Air Pollution Hotspots,” on Chicago’s air quality by the Chicago Sun-TimesWBEZ and MuckRock.

Growing evidence links air pollution exposure and covid-19 risks

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Research has shown that being unvaccinated raises a person’s risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus, while being older, overweight or immunocompromised can increase the severity of covid-19. Now scientists think there is another risk factor that may increase the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus and the possibility that it will lead to a poor outcome: exposure to air pollution.

growing body of evidence suggests links between breathing polluted air and the chances of being infected by the coronavirus, developing a severe illness or dying of covid-19. Although many of these studies focused on long-term exposure to air pollution, experts say there is also building evidence that even short-term exposures may have negative effects.

recent study of 425 younger adults in Sweden found that brief exposures were “associated with increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection despite relatively low levels of air pollution exposure,” according to the paper published in April. Unlike many other studies that analyzed vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or young children, and tracked the effects of long-term exposures on hospitalizations and deaths, the median age of participants, who largely reported mild to moderate symptoms, was about 25 years old.