Breathing Easier: Doing our Share
By Jennifer LB Leese
Most of us are familiar with phrases such as "Today's a code-red day for ozone" or possibly, "The air quality index for today is 102," from weather report stations, but do you know what that means? Many of us don't. In fact, many people never think twice about the air they breathe.
According to the Maryland Department of Environment's (MDE) website, "millions of people live in or around areas where ground level ozone, very small particles, and toxic pollutants pose serious health concerns." Those people breathe air that does not meet federal standards for healthy air. Those exposed to high levels of air pollution suffer from pollutant disadvantages, but children, elderly, and people with asthma are more vulnerable, as dirty air will cause frequent attacks.
The air of Washington County affects the way we live and breathe. Air pollution is not always seen or smelled. The harmful side effects don't always occur over night. They can find a cozy place to rest and make themselves at home within our systems—all the while posing chronic health concerns.
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) published an eye-opening report on the air quality within our region. "In the scheme of things, Washington County's air is relevantly clean," says Randy Mosier, Air Quality Planner for MDE. "Most of the air transported into the area comes from outside of the state. West Virginia and Virginia contribute to air qualities in Washington County."
At one time or another, we have all experienced short-term exposure to air pollutants—in a garage, at a bar, walking down the street—that are above certain levels. These pollutants cause temporary health concerns, such as eye irritation, throat irritation, and difficulty breathing. But it is well known that long-term exposure to air pollution can cause asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases, as well as cancer, and health concerns, such as and damage to the body's immune, neurological, and reproductive systems. Many believe that poor air pollution can lead to accelerated aging of the lungs, loss of lung capacity, as well as a shortened life span.
Sadly, the air pollution we create today can travel over large geographic areas and linger in the environment for years. These toxins spread for hundreds of miles on the winds and can affect areas that lie far from the cause of the pollution.
Every one of us tackles health risks as we go about our day-to-day business. Whether we are driving in cars, flying in planes, or walking down the street we are being exposed to environmental pollutants. We can't escape all of the toxin-related risks. Others we put up with because if we didn't it would limit the way we choose to live our lives. Indoor air pollution is a hazard that we can do something about.
Ground level ozone, caused when sunlight reacts with various pollutants of fumes from vehicles, lawn mowers, boats, and releases from power plants and industrial facilities, is Maryland's most significant air pollution problem.
Home Adventures, a company with your best interests in mind, has decided to do something about it. With selling their environmentally safe products such as spas, pools, pellet stoves, and hot tubs, they have given the public a method of choosing better indoor and outdoor air. These EPA-approved wood pellets, made from the finest raw materials, are Quadra-free, therefore, burning clean, while reducing matter released into the air. Not only are they safe to use, they help reduce electric and gas bills, as well.
Randy Mosier, from MDE, agrees, "A pellet stove that burns cleaner, would mean cleaner air for those that live in Washington County."
Home Adventures is dedicated to pleasing the customer's every expectation. "With our skilled technicians and experienced sales staff, we try to make the customer feel as if their back yard is as comfortable as their home," says Wendy and Ryan Chapin, owners wanting to give back to their community. "The demand is growing in the Washington County area for pools, stoves, spas, and accessories.
"As customers ourselves, we've come to understand what customers want and expect from service industries. We will try hard to maintain a happy customer."
Don't wait to hear, "It's a red-code ozone day." On top of changing your heating habits, here are a few other things you can do on a daily basis to improve the air around us, protect the environment, and save you money:
- Choose environmentally safe household products such as using white vinegar or baking soda and water to clean instead of using bleach
- Use cloth napkins
- Select water-based latex paints whenever possible
- Purchase nontoxic inks
- Use compost in your garden instead of chemical fertilizers
- Use boric acid to get rid of those pesky bugs
- Reduce solid waste by choosing products that are durable, reusable, and made from recycled materials while recycling yourself
If you are interested in learning more about Home Adventures, stop by either of their two locations in Hagerstown at 327 E. Wilson Blvd. or 1826B Dual Highway and talk with any of their knowledgeable sales and service representatives.
You can also visit any one of these websites, the Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.org, Maryland Department of Environment at www.mde.state.md.us, or the American Lung Association at www.lungusa.com for more information on air quality.
Progress has been made over the years to recover our air quality, but there's still work to be done. We all add to the problem of ground level ozone. Therefore, we all need to do something about it and our polluting actions. Maryland Department of Environment asks that everyone consider riding in a carpool, telecommute or take mass transit to get to work, delay lawn and garden chores that use gasoline powered equipment, refuel your cars after dusk, limit driving, and wait for a cooler day to use oil-based paints.
"If we do our share, we can breathe cleaner air!"