How Clean Should Air Be?

by | Feb 3, 2023 | Air Pollution, Environment, Pollution

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Air is an essential element in the survival of all living organisms on earth. Every human being has the right to breathe clean and safe air. Despite that, almost half the population in the world breathes in toxic air. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 9 out of 10 people breathe in air containing high levels of pollutants. WHO estimates about 7 million deaths per year from exposure to fine airborne particles that penetrate deep into the lungs causing various diseases.

The cleanliness of indoor air is an important factor in maintaining a healthy environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The EPA recommends a range of 50-100 for indoor air quality, with lower numbers indicating better air quality. Factors that impact air cleanliness include pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold, dust, and smoke. It’s important to regularly monitor and improve indoor air quality to ensure a healthy living or working space.

How Clean Should Air Be?

People don’t always notice the effects of air pollution on their health. Breathing harmful air can have a prolonged impact on an individual’s health. The air quality worldwide is continuously worsening from wildfires, climate change, industrial and vehicular pollution, etc.

Clean air does not have any harmful levels of pollutants, dirt, or chemicals. Clean air is suitable for people to inhale. In fact, clean air is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For the best quality of life, one must ensure that the air inhaled must be free from as many pollutants as possible. This is important because air (oxygen) inhaled into our systems nourishes the lungs, the blood, and, therefore, the rest of the body’s organs.

How Clean Should Air Be To Lead A Healthy Lifestyle?

The WHO has established a set of air pollution standards called ‘Guidelines‘ for different types of air pollution in different environments. A guideline value called a mean or average establishes a ceiling for reasonable levels of exposure to certain air pollutants for a defined period, like for 24 hours or an entire year.

According to the WHO, anything above the annual mean value of 10 μg/m3 exposure to air pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is considered unhealthy and unsafe. For such levels of exposure, specific policy actions need to be taken against polluted areas beyond the guideline values.

PM2.5 is considered harmful to public health, even in small amounts. A study conducted on the impacts of PM2.5 on human health found that even short-term inflammation caused by exposure to PM2.5 can notably increase the risk of DNA damage, cancer, and the symptoms of several lung and heart conditions, including bronchitis and asthma.

There is no safe level of air pollutants. 10 μg/m3 average is the absolute maximum acceptable level of PM2.5 by WHO standards. Anything beyond that is considered a harmful level of PM2.5 exposure. Ideally, air should be without any pollutants for a safe and healthy life. However, urbanization and development have forced people to bear the conditions we live in today.

Even though it may be challenging to get rid of air pollution immediately, it is essential to reduce individual air pollution exposure at every chance possible. Regularly monitoring the air quality in your area can prevent exposure to air pollution in the first place by shutting windows and avoiding traveling outside. Monitoring the air quality is a smart effort and is also crucial to personal health. Indoor plants are a must, as they significantly help reduce air pollutants at home.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Quality Becomes Best In 8 Years


  • Dr. Emily Greenfield

    Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.


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