Author Topic: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution  (Read 3865 times)

lilactree

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« on: April 12, 2016, 09:40:24 AM »
Hello everyone. I just joined the forum (and rarely join forums!).

In thinking about what neighborhood to live in (or even what region, I guess), how can one attempt to quantify the value of cleaner air in relation to other factors like better commute, proximity to family, affordability, etc? In particular, what if one has children and also family history of allergy and autoimmune issues? I definitely think it's important and but don't know how much of a priority it should be.

There may not be an easy answer to this, but I'm sure many on this forum would have some good insights into this topic. Thank you.

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2016, 09:52:42 AM »
Check the EPA's air quality website:
https://cfpub.epa.gov/airnow/index.cfm?action=airnow.main

I do not think this is a minor consideration, especially if you are a person who likes being outdoors.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2016, 10:39:50 AM »
This is a real issue. I purposefully found a house that is over a mile from any divided highways - not because of the noise, but because of the pollution. A mile is not far to drive to get to your commute, but it does make a difference in air quality. I had mild asthma as a child and it can come back when I have any sort of respiratory issue, and that is a good thing to try to not burden your children with. (Obviously most children living next to highways won't get sick at all, but there are higher rates of asthma, autism, and other issues among people living close to interstates.)

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8847
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2016, 10:42:02 AM »
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Where we live right now has very high levels of diesel particulates. We're planning on starting a family at the end of the year. We garden, we have an outdoor gym, we love walking places. How much impact does this have, vs the financial trade offs if we move (we're in a less-than market rate place, in the cheapest neighborhood possible)?

Definitely something I've been considering lately.

little_brown_dog

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 915
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2016, 10:55:38 AM »
A smart consideration. I have taken graduate coursework in environmental health and based on what I learned this is how I would prioritize things:

- Smog - cities have a lot of benefits, but their air quality is usually poor due to the high concentration of vehicles, living spaces, and businesses. If you want to live in or near a particular city, try to see if you can find out more about the overall air quality. Good indicators might be how many moderate to serious smog alerts they have in the summer time, or how many industrial plants are located within the city limits.

- Industrial sites/factory farms/plants/quarries/mines - Generally the closer one lives to these places, the worse the air quality (and the lower the home values). Ground water and soil are also notoriously dangerous within a few miles of very active sites. In particular, you want to steer well clear of fracking sites and CAFOs (factory farms). Both pose extreme hazards to the water supply in addition to their emissions.

- Highway/roadway pollution - If you are more of a rural or suburban type person, check out the highways. Ideally you don't want to be living right next to one, but a distance of even a quarter mile to half mile can make a big difference. I live a little over a quarter mile from a highway. I'd prefer to be further afield, but overall I'm not too concerned about it.

If it were me, I'd rather live closer to a highway than closer to an industrial site or in a big city if I was trying to avoid excess pollution. Some people also factor in the jet stream, but really if you are that neurotic about it, that will essentially prevent you from living anywhere on the entire East coast. Many new englanders live long lives despite being in the "tail pipe" of the country, so I wouldn't worry too much about this one.

A separate big consideration is you home's own indoor air quality. Tightly insulated homes are great for energy efficiency, but they lack circulation. Paint, furniture, chemicals, etc all off-gas into the air. Clothes and carpets release tons of particulate dust. Best way to reduce airborne dust is to reduce the amount of cloth/material in your home (rugs, carpets, furniture) and routinely clean with damp cloths to catch the particles. Indoor air purifiers can also be a wise investment if you have pets, or family members who suffer from allergies.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 11:03:35 AM by little_brown_dog »

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8847
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2016, 10:57:06 AM »
A smart consideration. I have taken graduate coursework in environmental health and based on what I learned this is how I would prioritize things:

- Smog - cities have a lot of benefits, but their air quality is usually poor due to the high concentration of vehicles, living spaces, and businesses. If you want to live in or near a particular city, try to see if you can find out more about the overall air quality. Good indicators might be how many moderate to serious smog alerts they have in the summer time, or how many industrial plants are located within the city limits.

- Industrial sites/factory farms/plants - Generally the closer one lives to these places, the worse the air quality (and the lower the home values). Ground water and soil are also notoriously dangerous within a few miles of very active sites.

- Highway/roadway pollution - If you are more of a rural or suburban type person, check out the highways. Ideally you don't want to be living right next to one, but a distance of even a quarter mile to half mile can make a big difference.

If it were me, I'd rather live closer to a highway than closer to an industrial site or in a big city if I was trying to avoid excess pollution. Some people also factor in the jet stream, but really if you are that neurotic about it, that will essentially prevent you from living anywhere on the entire East coast. Many new englanders live long lives despite being in the "tail pipe" of the country, so I wouldn't worry too much about this one.

Where would you rank an international airport, out of curiosity?

little_brown_dog

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 915
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2016, 11:12:52 AM »
A smart consideration. I have taken graduate coursework in environmental health and based on what I learned this is how I would prioritize things:

- Smog - cities have a lot of benefits, but their air quality is usually poor due to the high concentration of vehicles, living spaces, and businesses. If you want to live in or near a particular city, try to see if you can find out more about the overall air quality. Good indicators might be how many moderate to serious smog alerts they have in the summer time, or how many industrial plants are located within the city limits.

- Industrial sites/factory farms/plants - Generally the closer one lives to these places, the worse the air quality (and the lower the home values). Ground water and soil are also notoriously dangerous within a few miles of very active sites.

- Highway/roadway pollution - If you are more of a rural or suburban type person, check out the highways. Ideally you don't want to be living right next to one, but a distance of even a quarter mile to half mile can make a big difference.

If it were me, I'd rather live closer to a highway than closer to an industrial site or in a big city if I was trying to avoid excess pollution. Some people also factor in the jet stream, but really if you are that neurotic about it, that will essentially prevent you from living anywhere on the entire East coast. Many new englanders live long lives despite being in the "tail pipe" of the country, so I wouldn't worry too much about this one.

Where would you rank an international airport, out of curiosity?

I'd probably place a large airport in 2nd category, along the lines of industrial sites although I don't ever remember learning specifically about airports. I would assume that the constant emissions from so many planes idling, taking off, and landing would contribute to lower air quality in the vicinity or directly downwind. A small regional airport that sees primarily small puddle jumpers a few times a day wouldn't be so bad.
That being said, as you search for the "best" places to live in terms of pollution, you will find there really are no pristine places left. Most of us have to pick and choose. If it were me, go for living near a suburban or rural highway instead of a particularly smoggy city, or near plants/factories/big farms/airports/etc.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 11:16:16 AM by little_brown_dog »

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8847
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2016, 11:17:19 AM »
A smart consideration. I have taken graduate coursework in environmental health and based on what I learned this is how I would prioritize things:

- Smog - cities have a lot of benefits, but their air quality is usually poor due to the high concentration of vehicles, living spaces, and businesses. If you want to live in or near a particular city, try to see if you can find out more about the overall air quality. Good indicators might be how many moderate to serious smog alerts they have in the summer time, or how many industrial plants are located within the city limits.

- Industrial sites/factory farms/plants - Generally the closer one lives to these places, the worse the air quality (and the lower the home values). Ground water and soil are also notoriously dangerous within a few miles of very active sites.

- Highway/roadway pollution - If you are more of a rural or suburban type person, check out the highways. Ideally you don't want to be living right next to one, but a distance of even a quarter mile to half mile can make a big difference.

If it were me, I'd rather live closer to a highway than closer to an industrial site or in a big city if I was trying to avoid excess pollution. Some people also factor in the jet stream, but really if you are that neurotic about it, that will essentially prevent you from living anywhere on the entire East coast. Many new englanders live long lives despite being in the "tail pipe" of the country, so I wouldn't worry too much about this one.

Where would you rank an international airport, out of curiosity?

I'd probably place a large airport in 2nd category, along the lines of industrial sites although I don't ever remember learning specifically about airports. I would assume that the frequent emissions from so many places idling, taking off, and landing would contribute to lower air quality in the vicinity or directly downwind. A small regional airport that sees primarily small puddle jumpers a few times a day wouldn't be so bad.
That being said, as you search for the "best" places to live in terms of pollution, you will find there really are no perfect places.

Well, from the papers I've read, it's actually the support vehicles that end up being larger problems that the planes themselves- the diesel luggage haulers, and the things that taxi the planes short distances, the fuel trucks, all the trucks running about, etc.

And it's PDX, so not exactly a small airport. But interestingly, they run a B20 on everything, and supposedly biodiesel results in less toxins? Portland does B20 for all its busses and recycling and trash trucks too. I do hope that helps some.

Ugh. Maybe we should move. We're between 3 highways on 3 sides (~2 miles from each), and pretty close to the airport. Everything closer in is too expensive, though, and we can't really live in a suburb right now. Ah well. One (to 1.5) more year and we move back to our much smaller, much less polluted home town.

little_brown_dog

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 915
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2016, 11:28:02 AM »
A smart consideration. I have taken graduate coursework in environmental health and based on what I learned this is how I would prioritize things:

- Smog - cities have a lot of benefits, but their air quality is usually poor due to the high concentration of vehicles, living spaces, and businesses. If you want to live in or near a particular city, try to see if you can find out more about the overall air quality. Good indicators might be how many moderate to serious smog alerts they have in the summer time, or how many industrial plants are located within the city limits.

- Industrial sites/factory farms/plants - Generally the closer one lives to these places, the worse the air quality (and the lower the home values). Ground water and soil are also notoriously dangerous within a few miles of very active sites.

- Highway/roadway pollution - If you are more of a rural or suburban type person, check out the highways. Ideally you don't want to be living right next to one, but a distance of even a quarter mile to half mile can make a big difference.

If it were me, I'd rather live closer to a highway than closer to an industrial site or in a big city if I was trying to avoid excess pollution. Some people also factor in the jet stream, but really if you are that neurotic about it, that will essentially prevent you from living anywhere on the entire East coast. Many new englanders live long lives despite being in the "tail pipe" of the country, so I wouldn't worry too much about this one.

Where would you rank an international airport, out of curiosity?

I'd probably place a large airport in 2nd category, along the lines of industrial sites although I don't ever remember learning specifically about airports. I would assume that the frequent emissions from so many places idling, taking off, and landing would contribute to lower air quality in the vicinity or directly downwind. A small regional airport that sees primarily small puddle jumpers a few times a day wouldn't be so bad.
That being said, as you search for the "best" places to live in terms of pollution, you will find there really are no perfect places.

Well, from the papers I've read, it's actually the support vehicles that end up being larger problems that the planes themselves- the diesel luggage haulers, and the things that taxi the planes short distances, the fuel trucks, all the trucks running about, etc.

And it's PDX, so not exactly a small airport. But interestingly, they run a B20 on everything, and supposedly biodiesel results in less toxins? Portland does B20 for all its busses and recycling and trash trucks too. I do hope that helps some.

Ugh. Maybe we should move. We're between 3 highways on 3 sides (~2 miles from each), and pretty close to the airport. Everything closer in is too expensive, though, and we can't really live in a suburb right now. Ah well. One (to 1.5) more year and we move back to our much smaller, much less polluted home town.

That would make sense about the support vehicles - big airports can be almost like mini cities in terms of vehicle traffic. Honestly, I wouldn't lose sleep over it, especially if you are moving in a year. The lungs have demonstrated a wonderful ability to heal themselves, even after years of direct inhalation of cigarette smoke. If you want to do SOMETHING to make yourself feel better, you might want to get an air purifier. Combined with a few indoor plants, it would probably improve the air quality a bit (nothing miraculous mind you, but better than nothing).

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5638
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2016, 11:36:14 AM »
When my kids were small we lived in the midwest where there was lots of manufacturing and my youngest got asthma at 1. He still had it at 12 when we moved to a cleaner air state for a job. It completely went away. When ever he returns to his hometown it comes back while he is there.  So it can make a difference.

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8847
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2016, 12:15:34 PM »
A smart consideration. I have taken graduate coursework in environmental health and based on what I learned this is how I would prioritize things:

- Smog - cities have a lot of benefits, but their air quality is usually poor due to the high concentration of vehicles, living spaces, and businesses. If you want to live in or near a particular city, try to see if you can find out more about the overall air quality. Good indicators might be how many moderate to serious smog alerts they have in the summer time, or how many industrial plants are located within the city limits.

- Industrial sites/factory farms/plants - Generally the closer one lives to these places, the worse the air quality (and the lower the home values). Ground water and soil are also notoriously dangerous within a few miles of very active sites.

- Highway/roadway pollution - If you are more of a rural or suburban type person, check out the highways. Ideally you don't want to be living right next to one, but a distance of even a quarter mile to half mile can make a big difference.

If it were me, I'd rather live closer to a highway than closer to an industrial site or in a big city if I was trying to avoid excess pollution. Some people also factor in the jet stream, but really if you are that neurotic about it, that will essentially prevent you from living anywhere on the entire East coast. Many new englanders live long lives despite being in the "tail pipe" of the country, so I wouldn't worry too much about this one.

Where would you rank an international airport, out of curiosity?

I'd probably place a large airport in 2nd category, along the lines of industrial sites although I don't ever remember learning specifically about airports. I would assume that the frequent emissions from so many places idling, taking off, and landing would contribute to lower air quality in the vicinity or directly downwind. A small regional airport that sees primarily small puddle jumpers a few times a day wouldn't be so bad.
That being said, as you search for the "best" places to live in terms of pollution, you will find there really are no perfect places.

Well, from the papers I've read, it's actually the support vehicles that end up being larger problems that the planes themselves- the diesel luggage haulers, and the things that taxi the planes short distances, the fuel trucks, all the trucks running about, etc.

And it's PDX, so not exactly a small airport. But interestingly, they run a B20 on everything, and supposedly biodiesel results in less toxins? Portland does B20 for all its busses and recycling and trash trucks too. I do hope that helps some.

Ugh. Maybe we should move. We're between 3 highways on 3 sides (~2 miles from each), and pretty close to the airport. Everything closer in is too expensive, though, and we can't really live in a suburb right now. Ah well. One (to 1.5) more year and we move back to our much smaller, much less polluted home town.

That would make sense about the support vehicles - big airports can be almost like mini cities in terms of vehicle traffic. Honestly, I wouldn't lose sleep over it, especially if you are moving in a year. The lungs have demonstrated a wonderful ability to heal themselves, even after years of direct inhalation of cigarette smoke. If you want to do SOMETHING to make yourself feel better, you might want to get an air purifier. Combined with a few indoor plants, it would probably improve the air quality a bit (nothing miraculous mind you, but better than nothing).

I'm just worried about the possibility of being pregnant and then having a newborn during that year. Not so much my lungs I'm worried about.

lilactree

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2016, 02:30:57 PM »
These are all useful comments, thank you.

Any thoughts about living near a quarry?

little_brown_dog

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 915
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2016, 12:41:23 PM »
These are all useful comments, thank you.

Any thoughts about living near a quarry?

An active quarry or blasting site (not an old one that is no longer in use) will probably have poorer air quality in the immediate vicinity and downwind due to heavy amounts of particulate matter (from excavation and blasting), vehicle emissions from the tractors and trucks, and from any explosives if they are used.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2016, 01:23:06 PM »
Look into the quarry's history of notices of violation for air quality.

FLBiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
  • Age: 43
Re: Value of Air Quality/Low Pollution
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2016, 03:00:05 PM »
This is definitely something I've thought about in the past but not so much recently.  I spent 5 years in Taiwan, and one of the main reasons I didn't settle their permanently was air / water pollution.  Then I spent 2.5 years in Hawaii (great) and moved to China for a year.  You ain't seen air pollution until you've been to China.  Now I'm in Tampa, and the air probably isn't perfect, but it seems pretty good.  That said, we're not downtown.