Some things to consider this week:
How to see it
How to smell it
How to feel it
air represents a vehicle for thinking about environment that refuses easy oppositions between wild “Nature” and artificial “machines.”
Some plant species are more sensitive to air pollution than others:
Plant leaf cells become injured and even die as a result of ground-level ozone. This can be seen as small black or brown spots on broad-leafed plants, or yellow (chlorotic) spots on conifer needles.
Symptoms of damage caused from high concentrations of sulphur dioxide are the yellowing, or chlorosis, of the tissue between the veins of broad leaves, or the browning of the tip of conifer needles.
airborne particles are usually invisible and sometimes scentless; their biological effects are difficult to prove.
Coarse particles have a diameter of between 10 µm and 2.5 µm and settle relatively quickly, whereas fine (1 to 2.5 µm in diameter) and ultrafine (<1 µm in diameter) particles remain in suspension for longer.
To put things into perspective: human hair has a diameter of 50-70 µm and a grain of sand has a diameter of 90 µm.
When someone talks about PM10 they are referring to particles smaller than 10 µm. These particles include dust, pollen, and mold spores. Conversely, when someone references PM2.5 they are referring to particles smaller than 2.5 µm. These smaller particles include combustion particles, organic compounds, and metals.
The disproportionate exposure of Black and brown Americans to pesticides, smog, poorly ventilated spaces, gas leaks, and military experiments with mustard gas illustrates how differential deodorization distributes toxicity along racial lines.
How do we both make slow violence visible yet also challenge the privileging of the visible?
notes on this page:
The Smell of Risk: Environmental Disparities and Olfactory Aesthetics – Hsu, Hsuan L., 2020.
Vegetation and air pollution (Environment Canada)
Hot spots depict how coal plants contribute to Edmonton pollution in new Environment Canada images (Edmonton Journal, 2015)