Better air is the easiest way not to die

by digital_carver1 min read28th Apr 202110 comments

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This is a linkpost for https://dynomight.net/air/

It’s hard to prioritize health advice. I’m told I should limit salt and eat cruciferous vegetables and do cardio and sleep well and limit alcohol and reduce stress and go for regular checkups. But how much do each of these matter? If you’re a fallible hairless ape, what should you do first?

You should put the stuff with the highest return on effort first, and that’s air.

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Would love any context here - not sure if I should parse the linkpost as random person on internet saying things or if any background that would give me a higher prior that their models are accurate and/or useful.

As far as I know, it's just a random person on the Internet saying things that seem well thought-out and with enough research to at least serve as a good starting point. There's also a Hacker News page with critical discussion and other semi-related information, for those interested.

Great, thank you

To add some value to this linkpost, here are my notes from reading this long article:

  • It's an article on an anonymous blog in 2020. The author does cite their research, though, so you can draw your own conclusions.
  • The section "What I recommend" lists ten lifestyle recommendations (many of which are quite unintuitive) to reduce the effect of bad air quality on your life expectancy.
  • Every item in the initial table comparing lifestyle / single event to life cost due to bad air quality is explained and accompanied with citations. Specifically, here's how the article quantifies harm by PM 2.5 particles in the air (the math is based on two big papers, but I couldn't tell whether the interpretation or implication were plausible):

A heuristic to quantify harms

How much do particles hurt you? While it’s hard to be precise, this section will give two simple heuristics:

  • A life-long exposure of 33.3 PM2.5 costs 1 DALY. This is best for lifestyle changes. For example, moving from somewhere with no particulates to somewhere with a level of 100 costs 3 DALY.
  • At 2500 PM2.5, you lose disability-adjusted life in real time. This is best for one-off events. For example, if you’re exposed to a level of 5000 for 3 hours, you lose 6 disability-adjusted life hours.
  • In any case, you can disregard this specific heuristic and just act based on the article's specifics:
    • Air quality in trains and underground stations is apparently *extremely bad*. The numbers are truly ridiculous.
    • Ultrasonic humidifiers and incense are also really bad.
    • Candles emit most of their particulates when extinguished, so if you must use candles regularly, extinguish them with a lid.
    • Cooking emits lots of particulates, so opening a window or using a kitchen range hood helps a ton.
    • and more; see the section "What I recommend" at the top of the article, with elaboration and caveats at the bottom.

Only tangentially related, but I found this recent comment thread on Hacker News very interesting. There are carbon scrubbers you can buy and attach to computer fans to completely eliminate odors without using air fresheners, much less incense or candles.

Do you know of any air purifier that's effective and not noisy? 

I used Wirecutter for this: The Best Air Purifier for 2021 | Reviews by Wirecutter (nytimes.com). I picked their top choice, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty, about a month ago.

So far, it seems to work pretty well, and it's very quiet in standby mode - roughly similar to the fridge. But every time I fry anything on the stove, the fan automatically speeds up to the highest level, which is much louder, roughly similar to a typical conversation. On the bright side, though, at least that proves that it works.

Yes, I had the exact same experience. I was happy to see it works but it can be kind of annoying because it's the loudest right when we're going to eat or watch something.

I have. Winix that seems to work pretty well. I measure this by the number of seconds it takes to kick up after I’ve farted, which is about 20.

It’s also supposed to have HEPA level filtering…

Perhaps that’s weak evidence? I’m not sure.