What Is Causing Air Pollution Levels To Go Through The Roof in the Northern U.S.?

Map of air pollution in Northern U.S.

After the release of the Share My Air live pollution map last week, processing air quality data instantly and “seeing” trends has become far easier for those of us who don’t know how to query an air pollution database! As we checked out the live map over the past two days, we noticed a distinct trend. Monitors across the Midwest and Northeast were getting more red in a hurry, meaning their pollution levels were spiking. This was not just a few monitors, it seemed to be every monitor. We looked for an explanation in national or local news, but we could not find any reports on the phenomenon. Are we crazy?

To test whether this is an actual pollution wave hitting many states across the northern U.S., we decided to do a little investigation. We took a random sample of 50 monitors across 10 states (5 per state). States sampled include: MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, NJ, and KY. We looked at daily averages for the past two days (Aug 30, 2015 and Aug 31, 2015) and compared them to daily averages for every other day of the month. What we found was startling, to say the least.

Out of 50 monitors sampled, 40 (80%) experienced their highest daily pollution value for the month over the past 2 days. Considering that this study sampled 10 states, this a quite a land area for pollution to spike simultaneously. This is not a local pollution event in any one place – it is a blanket of pollution covering many communities within these 10 states.

Two questions followed: is anybody reporting on this across the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic? We could not find any definitive articles. Also, where is the pollution coming from?

Here is our theory: the wildfires in the Northwest and California release tons of fine particulates into the air. The West experienced their air pollution event last week, but these tiny particulates can stay in the air for weeks. They likely entered the jetstream and began a journey across the rest of the U.S., getting deposited into communities along the way.

What do you think? Is this caused by the wildfires, or something else? Is anybody experiencing the effects of this pollution right now? Has anybody else done a report on this? Let us know! Shoot an email to info@joinvivergy.com, tweet @vivergy and talk to us on Facebook at facebook.com/vivergy. Would love to hear your thoughts!

-The Vivergy Team


Launch of Official Vivergy Beta

After 6 short months of development, it is that time! Today, I am proud to announce that we are officially beta-launching the first version of the Vivergy platform at joinvivergy.com. For those of you who are hearing about this for the first time, or who are just now getting back in touch, here is the deal:

Vivergy is a complete re-imagination of personal energy and fuel consumption as an issue of community health. On Vivergy, you can discover how your energy choices impact the health of community members through air pollution, and team up with others around you to reduce childhood asthma attacks.

If this is news to you, here is one way you can look at it. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we are located, children breathe in 7 cigarettes worth of air pollution over the course of the year. This is equal to living approximately 3 months out of the year with a smoker. Even though Ann Arbor has far from the dirtiest air in the country, and you can rarely see any sort of smog, it is still there. Children with asthma are especially susceptible. Need a full summary? Check out our video.

On Vivergy, you can

  • get your V Score, which symbolizes your personal impact on human health due to air pollution
  • get a live report, up to the latest hour, on air quality in your area in terms of cigarettes
  • compare to others in your community
  • get custom suggestions for actions you can take, and what impact they have in terms of V Score and dollars
  • team up on our Groups feature to create a bigger statement

We really like focusing on air pollution for two distinct reasons. Number one, it is a localized phenomenon. Pollution is much more likely to stick around the area where fuel or energy is being burned. In other words, your community gets a shot at improving its own air. Secondly, you can get a dynamic air quality reading every hour. This is a reminder that this issue is very real right now, but can also be addressed right now.

So of all the things we could be doing with our lives, we choose to do this. Why? Well, once we discovered that we could develop a credible system to give people the opportunity to improve the health of other human beings, we felt a huge emotional pull to spread our tool to others. It is something about the concept of affecting the life of another person, whether we know them or not, that resonates deeply within us. We thought about our experiences as athletes, and the excellent feeling that comes with staying in good health. Given the fact that those with asthma may not be able to enjoy this as often as others, we want to do whatever we can, within reason, to take a part in reducing their burden. And we want to give that feeling for the greatest amount of time possible. So check out our product and join us! joinvivergy.com

Got a question? Email us at info (at) joinvivergy.com

-The Vivergy Team

Creating a healthy human habitat