So look at the fleeting stars with fleeting eyes, and feel how the earth beneath you gives. It is all a temporary manifestation of particles, and it is all unraveling back to particulate silence. The bustle of the human day will come and will go. And then there will be night.

But how beautiful these moments within the dissolve! What a temporary perfection we can find within this passing world! Everything good ever done! Everything good that was done today, and all the good people doing it, and back and back and forward and forward, all of that beauty within a universe unraveling.

- Cecil Palmer, Welcome to Night Vale, Episode 49 - Old Oak Doors Part B

A Home Air Quality Monitor That Can Be Checked Out From The Library

Air pollution comes from many sources — power plants, industrial production and fires, to name a few. In Pittsburgh, the most polluted city east of California, according the American Lung Association, avoiding dirty air while outdoors can be difficult, if not impossible. But a new device, available through the public library system, helps people identify and reduce bad air quality inside their homes.

John Horchner, one of those people, has been eagerly waiting to check out a Speck air quality monitor from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library for a few weeks. The small, WiFi-connected device detects and calculates the level of fine particulate matter, particles that are invisible to the naked eye and just a tiny fraction of the width of a human hair. The lower the count, the better the air — and the fewer risks to health.

A high presence of particulate matter can exacerbate problems like asthma, lung disease and allergies. But the loanable air monitor is helping residents find and fix the source of the problem.

The Speck air quality monitor costs $200, but is available to all through Pittsburgh’s public library system.Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab    
Tiny Metal Particles In The Air Penetrate And Damage the Cardiovascular System

Ischemic heart disease, heart attack, and decreased lung function are associated with the concentration of fine and very-fine metal particles in the air near California freeways. The source appears to be brake pads, brake drums, and metal additives in lubricating oils of trucks and cars passing through the valley. “These tiny metal particles penetrate deep into the lungs and the cardiovascular system, damaging arteries and the heart itself,” Cahill said.

Military health: The insurmountable gulf

In 1990 and 1991, the United States deployed some 700,000 military personnel to the Gulf to form a coalition with the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and several other countries to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The seven-month campaign resulted in few coalition casualties. But soon after returning home, about 30% of US veterans began to get sick. Their illnesses were difficult for doctors to understand.

They shared a cluster of symptoms — including severe fatigue, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders and cognitive problems. But few individuals had all of the symptoms, and there were many proposed causes. The destruction of chemical-weapons repositories was a leading suspect. Troops also marched past burning oil wells, slept in tents doused with pesticides and received new vaccines and pills to protect them from diseases and biological and nerve agents.

“From the beginning, the VA has refused to honestly face the problems that face veterans,” said Joel Graves, a Gulf War veteran who until last year had served on a committee advising the VA on research priorities related to the illness.

Graves and others contend that the agency has refused to recognize Gulf War illness as a unique physiological condition, maintaining instead that it is psychosomatic or the result of stress. The VA, they claim, has obstructed research into Gulf War illness, stacked scientific review panels with members who would favour a psychological explanation and defanged the research advisory committee (RAC) that Graves served on. As a result, critics contend, thousands of soldiers have found it difficult to get a diagnosis or related health benefits. At the meeting, James Binns, an attorney and chair of the RAC, called the VA’s actions “morally and intellectually bankrupt”.

More at Nature


The day started with a marine layer and chemical mix for LA, with skies beginning to clear in the early afternoon.  We should have good air quality for most of the day once the rest of the aerosols clear.  Overhead in mid-morning, what appeared to be alto-cumulus clouds could be seen.  To the west a layer of smog-like pollution created a haze in the sky and NEXRAD ripples could be seen in the thin layer of particulates.  Los Angeles smog does not come from over the ocean.  Historically, the west side of LA has had the best air quality due to the winds coming in and blowing away the smog created by cars in the city.  When you see pollution in the western sky, this is a good sign that chembombing or spraying has occurred over the ocean.  In this case, according to NOAA’s GOES Composite Map, the aerosols came up in a circular movement from Mexico, south of Arizona, and swept into Southern California this morning.