February 14, 2022
We don’t think much about air. It’s kind of like the police; you don’t think of it much until you desperately need it. The air, assuming you are breathing ambient atmosphere, contains in each breath 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, along with what the greatest scientific minds on Earth refer to as “other stuff”.
This “other stuff” mostly comprises gases including carbon dioxide, neon, hydrogen – and methane if the person next to you had baked beans and boiled cabbage for dinner last night – but also aerosols, which are tiny particles that float on air and that we can breathe into our lungs. Some of these particles, for example dust and pollen, are picked up naturally when the wind blows, but even these are far from harmless, particularly if one has a respiratory condition like emphysema, asthma, or COPD. Worse still, air can carry particles that are created by, or used in, the industrial processes like soot, smoke, asbestos, silica, coal dust, and even some extremely dangerous and