Air pollution comes in many forms, from visible smog to invisible microparticles. Some of the tiniest things floating in our air can have the most dangerous impacts on public health, because these particles are small enough to bypass the body’s natural defense mechanisms, entering the blood stream and becoming lodged in the throat and lungs. The Midwest is full of many sources of air contamination, including power plants, idling motor vehicles, construction sites, airplanes, wood burning, fires, and dust. According to the American Lung Association, Chicago has the 18th worst air pollution among American cities due to ozone and particulate matter.
Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) is the broad term for these tiny air pollutants, and the number refers to their size. At 25,000 microns per inch, they are about 30x smaller than a human hair. Long term exposure to PM2.5 can affect everyone, but children and the elderly are particularly sensitive to the negative health effects caused by air pollution, especially those with asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses.
What is ELPC doing?
- We monitor air quality across Chicago neighborhoods, working with community partners to identify hot-spots or toxic roadways. We empower youth interns to learn about local air quality issues and gain skills in scientific data collection and mapping.
- Air Quality Chicago – We’ve gathered years of city-wide data into one spot, allowing residents to learn about their air and take action. Check out the website to see how your neighborhood stacks up.
- Our legal and policy experts work to implement strong air standards, expand pollution control technology, and ensure enforcement across the Midwest. Learn more about our impact here.