The Air we Breathe

In 2019 I collapsed and was taken to hospital. The paramedics put me on oxygen and took me to hospital. When I breathed that oxygen I thought it was like being in our Glen, standing next to the burn flowing through the fells. It was like a miracle as I had become unable to breathe on my own. I was diagnosed with numerous small blood clots filling my lungs. I was put on blood thinners and two days later was able to go home and begin my recovery, which took about 18 months.

I already suffered from chronic asthma. My father was a chain-smoker and the consultant at the hospital suggested his smoking had probably damaged my lungs whilst I was still in the womb. I was born after the war. Then I grew up in industrialised Yorkshire, England. I had constant bronchitis and had to go to school despite the dreadful cough. I was reprimanded if I coughed in Morning Assembly and was often sent out for disturbing the service.

My older sister was born during World War II and hardly saw my father until he came home when she was 5 years old. She never had a cough, yet grew up by my side in the same house, in the same soot laden city full of harmful chemicals in the air.

I now live in a remote part of Scotland where the air is fresh and clean. The daily pollution levels are usually nil, or low. Since smoking was banned in public places, I rarely meet smokers. The tobacco industry has a lot to answer for and I wish Sir Walter Raleigh had never brought a tobacco plant home to England.

I wish everyone could breathe the air I breathe now, a vast improvement on city living, or being near mining or other industrial activities.

No matter how fresh the air here is, the Covid virus can flourish if the circumstances are in its favour. Lockdown and living in isolation has been a good preventative measure. Not everyone has that luxury, and some do not want to do that anyway.

We now know Covid virus transmission is airborne, like many toxins such as the manmade chemical PFOA (see my blog in March) unseen and being breathed in by those who cannot see or feel it penetrating their body system. In confined spaces, the virus spreads easily. In open spaces it does not find its victims as easily unless people are pressed close to each other, or shouting and yelling.

Indoor hospitality, gyms, schools, community places and of course hospitals, health care premises and workplaces of all kinds would benefit from clean air filter machines operating 24/7 to ward off the virus and other lung threatening material in the circulating air. Older air conditioning systems simply send the same air back around the building and trap the virus with the people in their building spaces. When people retreat inside to escape from hot and sticky weather, seeking to benefit from their air conditioning, even in a car, if they are with other people and the virus has arrived in their midst, it can spread very quickly to everyone in the building.

Long before the Covid virus arrived, a ventilation engineer called Henrik Hendrikson from Denmark, developed an air purifier. He was motivated to make the Rensair air purifier to help his son, who suffered from severe allergies. He has set an industry standard with his design. Today he sells the machines world wide and the UKs NHS is one of his customers. The model “uses a powerful fan to push pre-filtered air down into the cylindrical shaped H13 HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance – more commonly High Efficiency Particulate Air ) filter located in the middle of the unit”.

There are many other brands of Air Purifiers but the H13 filter is the one which sorts the wheat from the chaff.

You can read more about HEPA here.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is approximately 0.125 micron (125 nanometers) in diameter. It falls squarely within the particle-size range that HEPA filters capture with extraordinary efficiency: 0.01 micron (10 nanometers) and above.

The top HEPA filter suppliers are listed here. Many materials have been used since the last World War when they were trying to prevent dangerous substances being breathed in by members of the military in war situations.

Safe disposal of HEPA filters depends on the materials they have made them from. See here for an example where careful disposal is mentioned. Note they say: “

The frame consists of halogen-free plastic
and is exceptionally distortion-resistant,
moisture-resistant and fully incinerable.

If, like me, you have never heard of halogen-free plastic which was invented in response to such directives as WEEE, then read here for a useful lesson in what engineers devised.

Polypropylene, used in masks and PPEs, can filter out this dangerous coronavirus. You cannot safely incinerate polypropylene.

Everything we try to do to lessen the advantages for virus transmission we must do, but foolish human behaviour is the biggest threat to increased transmission. Passion plays a big part in throwing caution to the wind; sport enthusiasts, religious and music festivals, angry protests…….any big human gathering where people are closely together, singing, shouting and full of passion.

Since the pandemic began, we have seen many instances around the world demonstrating passion, overriding self protection. We have no filter to protect us from ourselves.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
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