Graphic of WSU LogoAnyone who has asthma or heart diseases knows how important the quality of air you breathe is to overall health.

Breathing in air pollution can cause a number of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and often the biggest culprit for health issues comes from the tiniest airborne particles.

However, not much information is known about how climate change has affected air quality, especially small particulate matter under 2.5 microns in size.

It’s well known that particles of this size, which include soot, smoke and car exhaust, have dramatic impacts on our health because they are inhaled directly into our lungs. These particulates are linked to many respiratory issues including asthma, lung cancer and even heart disease.

“Those are small enough that you can breathe them deeply into your lungs, and the very smallest of the particles are so small that they can cross over the membranes of the lung into the bloodstream,” said Brian Lamb, Regents Regents professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Washington State University. “We’re finding the ultra-fine particles affect cardiovascular health. So there’s just a wide range of health impacts associated with the particles.”

Fortunately, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Washington State University researchers with a grant to better understand the effects climate change is having on air quality.

The goal of the study is to predict what air pollution may be like in 2030 and 2050, a time when global change is expected to have a large impact on the quality of air that we breathe.

This research is important because there are many different factors that can affect airborne particulate levels, including air currents, weather and polluting emissions. For example, the western side of the state of Washington may have lower levels of particulate matter in the air due to the fact that it rains more often than the eastern area, even though local emission standards are stricter.

Researchers at WSU will use a new, fast computer model that can monitor climate change on a regional level. It will follow air masses and track one specific area at a time throughout the day. This process will allow researchers to take into account a wide range of factors that attribute to climate change, including human factors.

The hope for these new discoveries is that they will serve as an aide for regional air quality managers to help them make better informed decisions.

Working in collaboration with WSU researchers on this study are the University of California, Irvine, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

On our site we recommend the use of an air purifier to help improve the air quality inside your home. Go here to find out what is the best air purifier for your particular situation.