There’s something in the air

Wildfires are one source of PAHs, but others include industrial processes. Photo by R. Hagerty and courtesy of USFWS.

Some of the reading I’ve been doing lately involves toxins in the environment, and I came across a term that hadn’t really made it onto my radar yet- “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons”. I’m familiar with the idea of hydrocarbons, especially with regard to various fuels we use, but PAHs (as they are abbreviated) I am less sure of. This group includes some things that I use on a regular basis and probably aren’t doing me much harm, like vanilla, but there are also more toxic substances which get into the air in a number of ways and pose a health risk, like some of the molecules in wood smoke. My guess is that some of these substances are emitted by processes beyond our control, but we probably have the ability to influence the abundance of others. And it’s probably a good idea for us to have a better sense of the dangers we inhale, versus drinking or eating, and how exposure can be limited. So it’s conservation at a larger scale with this topic, looking at things lurking in the air we breathe and what we can do to help everyone take a safe, deep breath.

Posted January 14, 2017 by Mirka Zapletal in Consumer Products, Pollution

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