Nitrogen Dioxide: Know your pollutants

July 13, 2022

Even though green technology is no longer a science fiction dream, we still must deal with the side products of our current industrial models. Nitrogen Dioxide is chief among them.

The complex world of nitrogen oxides

Our current industrial and transportation practices may serve us well for what they were intended to, but their biggest drawback is the rapid production of air pollution. They release chemicals of all kinds that are spread over the atmosphere, contaminating not only the air we breathe outdoors, but also sipping indoors into our houses and offices. 

Among these pollutants, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is of note. It belongs to the family of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a somewhat generic name for a group of reactive gases that contain both elements in various amounts, such as Nitric Acid (HNO3) and Nitric Oxide (NO). Many of these gases are odorless and colorless, which makes them difficult to detect unless special equipment is used. However, high concentrations of NO2, mixed with particles of other pollutants within the PM 2,5 range, may sometimes be seen (and smelled) as a reddish layer of contamination hanging over many urban areas.  

Although it is estimated that anywhere between 20 to 90 million tons of nitrogen oxides are produced naturally through volcanic eruptions, lighting strikes and organic decay, another 24 million tons are produced by human activity alone, greatly exacerbating the natural balance of these gasses. They are among the various causes behind smog and global warming, as they are created whenever fuels are burned. Anytime we drive a motor vehicle or begin an industrial process, we create one or more of these gases. Broken electric appliances can also generate them indoors, which posses a health problem in our homes and workspaces. 

The Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) that causes outdoors air pollution is not produced by motor vehicles and industrial processes by themselves, but by natural chemical bonding. Vehicles and human industry release Nitric Oxide (NO), which then combines with the oxygen in the atmosphere, resulting in NO2. Indoors, however, NO2 it is produced mainly by tobacco smoke, gas cookers and unvented heaters.  

How does NO2 affect my health?

The biggest problem with NO2 is that it can affect our health no matter the levels of exposure to it. Both short- and long-term exposure can result in health problems if concentrations are high enough and, of course, this is a bigger threat to people who already suffer any form of respiratory diseaseFor example, brief contact with high concentrations of it may result in an increased response to allergens in people who suffer from asthma. The elderly and children are also high-risk populations. In the case of the latter, it is thought that one out of twelve new asthma cases worldwide are cause by exposure to NO2, with estimations going as far as 1,85 million new childhood asthma cases linked to it in 2019

Healthy grown individuals are also at risk, as NO2 is an irritant that affects the eyes, nose and respiratory tract. Exposure at low levels may increase the risk of respiratory infections and decrease lung function. Higher levels can develop chronic bronchitis and pulmonary edema, which is a condition in which excess fluid inundates the lungs, complicating breathing. It is also responsible for inflammation of the airway, as well as continuous coughing and wheezing. Some research has even found links between NO2 and lower birth weight in newborns, cardiovascular problems, and even premature death

Even if our appliances are in perfect working conditions, even if we remove gas cookers from our closed doors environments, even if we perfectly ventilate our heaters, this gas can still find its way inside. Air pollution is constant in almost all major cities around the world. If our office is in a busy street, the change in pressure that happens by just opening a window will be enough to bring some NO2 in.  What this means is that no matter what we do, there will always be at least one source of NO2 polluting our indoors air, so we must get busy if we want to protect our health. 

What can we do against it?

There are a few things that we can do to remove this pestilence. All gas appliances, for example, need to be in proper working conditions. This means that perhaps it may come in handy to have a professional look at them, although, of course, it will come with a price tag. Another option would be to replace them with electric models, as would be the case with cookers, for example. Ventilation, of course, would be another natural thing to do so, but as we have pointed out, sometimes this works against us, as it brings NO2 (and other air pollutants) inside.  

There are other ways to protect ourselves from this gas, such as the installation of exhaust fans that will flush it out. These, however, are expensive and destructive, as they require manual interventions in our homes and offices. On the other hand, High Efficiency Particulate Air purifiers, or HEPA for short, have been found to be effective means against concentrations of NO2, especially if carbon filters are built in. They are more affordable than other mechanical options and are more effective at the job they do. A HEPA air purifier will filter out 99,97% of indoor pollutants at a fraction of other mechanical means’ price. 

What we at AIR8 can offer you

One of our core beliefs is that we should all conduct our lives in a safe air space. That is why we work to provide companies and public institutions with the best available filtering technology

All our products use medical-grade HEPA-13 technology. They include between four to six stages of pre-filtration and filtration, one of them being Activated Carbon, which, as mentioned above, is essential to filter out NO2. Cold Catalyst, Ioniser and UV-GI light are also part of our range of filters, which together work to a tool against aerosols, pollen, tobacco smoke and all other kinds of indoor air pollutants and toxic particles within the PM 2,5 range. Covid.19 is also filtered out by our products, as well as any other types of viruses and pathogens. 

As we have seen, NO2 can be generated indoors but can also be brought from the outside. It will cover large areas of our offices, so the best filtering product is required. Our AIR8 models can easily be moved from one room to another, and they cover a range of up to 1399 ft2 (130m2). They are silent, so you won’t even notice they are there. Their energy consumption is also low, so what you are looking at is the best offer in the market. The perfect balance between price and quality, backed by the CE marking on all our products and our own commitment to a better, healthier, working space.