With the current wildfires in Santa Clarita, there is a considerable amount of particulate matter in the air. Several biking events (626 Golden Streets, the Tour de Laemmle) have been postponed due to poor air quality. It's one thing to blame the air quality on wildfires, but the truth is that there are many things we all do on a day-to-day basis that generate particulate matter.
Particulate matter affects human health, leading to asthma and chronic bronchitis. Sources of particulate matter that we can eliminate include: agricultural (leafblowers) or construction activities which liberate mineral dust, combustion of fossil fuels and biofuels, electricity generation (via coal and natural gas).
Smog is visible air pollution made up of NOx, SOx, ozone, smoke or particulates. The air quality in Los Angeles County is pretty bad year-round but we really notice it when we can see how bad it is. Lately, all you need to do is look up in the sky. Angelinos have been asking each other, "are those clouds or just smoke?"
Surprisingly, two sources of indoor particulates are hair dryers and curling irons. Our vanity might be making us sick. I had heard that clothing dryers were a major source of particulates in the home, but it turns out that hair dryers and curling irons are 17 times worse than a clothes dryer. The other major source of indoor particulates is cooking. Spending time in a restaurant is almost 7 times worse than sitting in traffic on the freeway.
Yesterday we had the great opportunity to attend LA Rooted Youth Organizer Led Art Exhibit: Movement for the Earth. It really got me thinking about how to: Masticate, rely on Ancestral wisdom, be Intentional, and aim for Zero-waste (MAIZ). We had a great time biking to the event and the themes presented by the youth really resonated with me.
When possible, I will get back to biking to work. And I'll try to be less smug about it.