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ICYMI: Air Pollution and Heart Health

2014 February 28

Did you miss our Healthy Heart Month Twitter chat? Have no fear! We’ve pulled out some of the gems for you below. Visit www.epa.gov/healthyheart to learn more about protecting your heart from air pollution.

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.

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  1. Joe Schramek permalink
    February 28, 2014

    I feel we need to approve carbon dioxide as the most important gas for giving our hearts health by providing the needed oxygen. Carbon Dioxide is our only source for new oxygen on earth. Actually, burning fossil fuels provides us both carbon dioxide and water vapor that is essential in the process of converting carbon dioxide into water through photosynthesis.

    Carbon Dioxide has many uses for humans. Carbon Dioxide is bubbled into water to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is a weak acid, and the carbon dioxide bubbles into the air from the drink or when agitated during pouring. Carbonic acid is added into beverages (sodas, and beer) to improve taste and freshness. Frozen Carbon Dioxide is known as dry ice and is used to keep medicines, and refreshments refrigerated for long periods of time when electrical power is lost or products are being shipped by mail. The main use for this pollutant is the prime ingredient in the production of oxygen gas for the atmosphere though the process of photosynthesis as described below:

    Photosynthesis is the process whereby plants using light energy from the sun to convert carbon and water pollution in the soil to produce glucose sugar and oxygen gas through a series of reactions. Water and Carbon Dioxide gases in the atmosphere are the main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has declared that Carbon Dioxide is a pollutant because it causes unfavorable climate change. Water vapor or humidity is the most prevalent greenhouse gas at a maximum of 4% of the atmosphere at sea level and carbon dioxide pollution is relatively constant at .0392% or 100 times lesser than gaseous water vapor in the atmosphere. The chemical equation for photosynthesis is shown below:

    Light
    Carbon Dioxide + Water Glucose + Oxygen
    6CO2 6H2O Chlorophyll C6H12O6 + 6O2

    In producing vegetation in the form of farm crops, forests, all green plant life, the glucose from this process is further processed to produce carbohydrates, the storage mechanism of chemical energy. The oxygen gas produced from the photosynthesis process is the sole source of new oxygen in the atmosphere for all human and animal life on earth. Currently, because of the voracious appetite of plant life for the pollutant carbon dioxide, oxygen gas remains at a relative 21% of the total atmosphere on earth, thanks to the natural environmental process of photosynthesis. Most carbohydrates have a ratio of 1:2:1 of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, respectively, or by weight, Oxygen 50%, Carbon 44% and Hydrogen 6%. The conclusion is that the vegetation on earth consumes all of the pollutant, Carbon Dioxide.

    How is Carbon Dioxide formed here on earth?

    Carbon dioxide is produced by combustion of coal, and petroleum products and all hydrocarbons, the fermentation of sugars in beer and winemaking and by respiration of all living organisms. It is exhaled in the breath of humans and animals. It is emitted from volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and other places where the earth’s crust is thin and is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution. CO2 is also found in lakes, at depth under the sea and commingled with oil and gas deposits.

    How many Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen Atoms exist on Earth?

    With the exception of Hydrogen, all the carbon and oxygen atoms that existed here on earth when it settled in orbit around the sun are still here today. Hydrogen is the only element that can achieve an escape velocity greater that the earth’s gravitation force. Some NASA space missions removed a minimal number of atoms of all of the elements of the earth when they left the earth’s gravitational forces. Any escaped hydrogen gas that left earth most likely ended up in the surface of the Sun eventually.

    Here is the percentage amounts of elemental Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen in a few of the earth’s major components:

    Form Hydrogen Carbon Oxygen
    Human Body 10% 18% 65%
    Coal-Bituminous 4% 75% 5%
    Wood/Vegetation 6% 50% 44%
    Atmosphere .0055% .0118% 21%
    Ocean 11% .0028% 89%
    Inhaled Air into Humans .8% 1.4% 21.8%
    Exhaled Air from Humans .7% 1.4% 23.3%

    The atmosphere contains the greenhouse gases in varying amounts from: water vapor at a maximum level of 4% at sea level, and carbon dioxide at a relatively constant level of .00392% with an annual range of +.0003% in winter months and -.0012% at the end of the growing season depending on the seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the world. Water vapor or humidity can lower atmospheric pressures from 30 mm for low humidity and fair weather and 26 mm for high humidity for tornado and hurricane weather conditions. Atmospheric conditions are largely dependent on High and Low Pressure Systems. High Pressure Systems at 30 mm have clear blue skies and low humidity while Low Pressure System at 28-26 mm have high humidity and temperature conditions and gray threatening skies. Because Carbon Dioxide stays at insignificant levels in the atmosphere, it does not have any effect on weather conditions despite the EPA ruling it a pollutant.

  2. Ellen permalink
    March 5, 2014

    With air pollution as a culprit in worsening heart conditions in many people, it is just proper that one does everything he can to avoid air pollution. Aside from this, exercise and proper diet are essential also. Then, there’s also that quick way to keep body fat low and stay healthy if one chooses to.

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