Skip to content

What’s in the Air?

2011 April 1

By Sarah Blau

Today when I step outside after a long day of work, I will draw in a nice deep breath of fresh air….hmmm, I wonder what I am actually inhaling?

Oh, there’s definitely some oxygen in there, and probably some nitrogen and carbon dioxide too – I hear these things are common in air. But what with the cars zooming out of the parking lot, the groundskeepers spraying the shrubs, and the commuter bus making its daily rounds, I’m guessing there are chemicals going into my body that I’ve never even heard of.

The point is, pollution doesn’t affect people one chemical at a time. There is a whole plethora of chemicals floating around out there (most common air pollutants) and we want to know what they are going to do in our bodies!

This is why in early March I was excited to attend the Society of Toxicology’s Annual Meeting where EPA announced the creation of four new Clean Air Research Centers (CLARCs). One of the main goals of the centers is to research air pollution mixtures and how those mixtures affect our bodies.

Each of the four university-based CLARCs will receive $8 million over a 5-year grant period. The research centers are located at: Harvard University, Michigan State University, University of Washington, and a combined effort from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Each CLARC will have its own research focus, but the overarching theme of their research projects will be to better understand the health risks associated with air pollution and mixtures. More specific projects include studying the connections between air pollution and obesity, investigating how roadway pollution affects heart and lung health, researching how pollution mixtures and their associated health affects vary by location, and looking at how air pollution affects the human body during different life stages.

The four CLARCs will conduct cutting-edge research to answer a myriad of questions we have about air pollution. Questions such as: Are children born prematurely sensitive to air pollution, Can your morning commute make you sick, Does air pollution affect your child’s learning, or Does obesity make you susceptible to health effects of air pollution?

After hearing the EPA announcement about these centers and all the research projects they intend to conduct, I am looking forward to the day when I will actually know what I am breathing in – and what it is doing to my body – when I step outside after a long day of work and take a nice deep breath of fresh air.

About the author: Writer Sarah Blau is a student services contractor working with EPA’s science communication team.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Lisa Marcus permalink
    April 1, 2011

    I am trying to get full disclosure from power company, PG&E, as to what chemicals they are using in their cloud seeding, ground seeders, via chemtrail and flares. We have far too many people here with cancer, we are the next cancer circle you will read about.
    NO one will help us. We are in Plumas County, and supply the water to much of southern California….via cloud seeding.

    Locally, we have Collins Pine Mill, that cloud seeds for PG&E. The smoke stack goes over my childrens Elementary School (Chester, CA)

    Review airnow.gov (CA) we are above Sacremento. Every night, LA has better air quality than Shasta/Plumas counties. We are cloud seeded.

    Your office, EPA and Nothern Sierra Air Management said, PG&E is not regulated! NSAM, said Collins Pine could just turn off their sensors and no one would know when they cloud seed for PG&E.

    WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO!

  2. marshallj permalink
    April 1, 2011

    I live in the napa valley. This is a grape growing area. The grapes are sprayed with everything. The napa valley has the highest cancer rates around. It has the highest spinal bifida rate per capital as well. The drinking water is filled with vineyard poison runoffs. The vineyard people grow frankin grapes too. What can be done about the napa valley wineries that are poisioning the earth air and water, subjecting all of us locals with their poison.

  3. Alexander permalink
    April 2, 2011

    Fresh and clean air can be only when two men are on one hectare of the forest.

  4. bifidobacterium permalink
    April 4, 2011

    Nice post

  5. Barbara permalink
    April 5, 2011

    Your right Lisa, they won’t give up the chemicals because they do have too! Look around those Seeders, clues are everywhere. They are messy guys

  6. Eva G. permalink
    April 5, 2011

    One of the things that our office at the EPA focuses on is providing outreach to communities on the harmful effects of chemical pollutants. From the comments above, it is apparent that the people who live in these communities that are using these pollutants (power companies, farmers in valleys) are either uninformed of the harmful effects of chemicals or they are misusing their resources. It is important that these people are educated on the health effects of chemical exposure, provided alternatives to using these chemicals and provided proper steps to reduce the exposure to harmful chemicals within their communities.

    What is even more alarming about this entry, is that even professionals are beginning to recognize new emerging chemicals that are affecting our bodies. The fact that exposure to air pollution and chemicals can predispose children to obesity or other health problems, is a large concern. Employees within my office have also attended the Society of Toxicology’s Annual Meeting and have reported back about the goals of research centers. These centers are a great step in the right direction for research and future findings, however as the comments above show, making efforts to reach communities that are facing these health threats is always an important element in reducing the health effects of chemical exposure and air pollution.

  7. Eva G. permalink
    April 6, 2011

    One of the things that our office focuses on is providing outreach to communities on the harmful effects of chemical pollutants. From the comments above, it is apparent that the people who live in these communities that are using these pollutants (power companies, farmers in valleys) are either uninformed of the harmful effects of chemicals or they are misusing their resources. It is important that these people are educated on the health effects of chemical exposure, provided alternatives to using these chemicals and provided proper steps to reduce the exposure to harmful chemicals within their communities.

  8. Irene permalink
    July 12, 2011

    In the air we can get good and bad bacteria. One of the pollutants i need to face each day are the smoke coming from car engines and the use of mosquito killer in the house.

  9. Bob permalink
    March 28, 2012

    I have done some testing of the soil around my home in an attempt to find out what is giving me an alergic reaction. I have found very high levels of Barium, aluminum, and sulfer. I am sensitive to sulfer and all bi-products so I belive I have found the answer. I have also found the sorce of this polution and it is airborn. The source is Chemtrails from aircraft. I have also had the leavels in my body teated and have found high levels of all previously mentioned chemicals. I demand a full investigation into this issue. The EPA has been formed by the people to protect the people so do your job or we will eliminate the EPA. I will need this issue addressed within 30 day from today 3-28-2012. I will be watching the media outlets and look forword to the anouncement of the full investigation.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS