While the topic of air pollution does not get as much news coverage as global warming, it is still a serious worldwide problem. International efforts to combat polluted air started in 1972, yet the World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed that polluted air is the world’s biggest environmental health risk. Air pollution can be even worse during the coldest months, for several reasons.
What Makes Air Pollution Worse in Cold Weather?
Most people spend more time indoors when cold weather hits. It is possible that exposure to poor ventilation and higher carbon dioxide levels increases in the fall and winter. Even if your HVAC system is well maintained, tight door seals and layers of insulation around those and your windows can prevent fresh air from circulating inside.
Other factors contributing to an increase in air pollution in cold weather include increased usage of wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, and furnaces in homes, workplaces, and other places like restaurants and shopping malls. The cold weather also leads to more vehicle emissions, as people allow their cars and trucks to idle outdoors as the engines are warming up – those added exhaust fumes also contribute to air pollution.
What is Temperature Inversion?
This concept is based on common knowledge: cold air sinks and warm air rises. Cold air is denser, moves slower, and takes up less space between gas molecules than warm air. When cold air covers the ground, warm air passes over it. The cold air acts like a dense covering that can trap in pollutants and allergens. These stay put for longer periods of time and get breathed in at higher rates than in the spring and summer.
Cool, dry air retains more pollution, while warm, humid air allows it to dissipate faster. Temperature inversion causes carbon dioxide, smoke, smog, and other pollutants to remain closer to the ground for long periods of time. Weather events like rain, snow, and wind can break the coverings up, but dry winter air from low precipitation levels can really reduce air quality.
Weather sources agree that winter is the worst time for air pollution, which is mainly “fueled” by the burning of fossil fuels like coal. This time of year is also the end of harvesting season, so farmers burn the remnants (stubble) of their fields. So when you add those to the temperature inversion factor and more vehicles idling outside, it becomes a recipe for poor air quality.
What About Companies That Cause Air Pollution?
Almost every large company contributes to air pollution, usually through their operations and supply chains. It comes from the emissions that result from burning fuels and harmful gasses that are released through distribution and delivery trucks and cars. When a company mishandles dangerous chemicals by disposing of them improperly, toxins can be released into the air, causing cancer and other diseases. Toxic dust is a by-product of certain industries like glass production, foundries, construction, dental laboratories, and more.
Companies are required to take necessary precautions to protect their employees and the public from polluted air and water, but tend to fall short. Many have faced legal repercussions for this and also for mismanaging their waste products, which have leaked into public spaces and public water supplies. Like air pollution, this kind of negligence can make people ill and even lead to fatalities.
The Plainfield Environmental Attorneys from Herold Law, P.A. Advise Clients Who Have Become Ill From Air Pollution
If you suspect that air or water pollution has directly caused a serious illness for you or a loved one, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Plainfield environmental attorneys at Herold Law, P.A. Call our Warren, New Jersey offices at 908-647-1022 or complete our online form for a confidential consultation today. We serve clients in Warren and Plainfield.