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|1||Hidden Valley, Arizona|
|2||Charles Town, West Virginia|
|4||Panama City Beach, Florida|
|6||Sunrise Manor, Nevada|
|7||Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
|9||La Habra Heights, California|
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(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 4 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Minden air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Tuesday, Mar 28|
Good 1 US AQI
|Wednesday, Mar 29|
Good 10 US AQI
|Thursday, Mar 30|
Good 6 US AQI
|Friday, Mar 31|
Good 7 US AQI
Good 4 US AQI
|Sunday, Apr 2|
Good 8 US AQI
|Monday, Apr 3|
Good 6 US AQI
|Tuesday, Apr 4|
Good 5 US AQI
|Wednesday, Apr 5|
Good 5 US AQI
|Thursday, Apr 6|
Good 5 US AQI
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Minden is located in Douglas County, in the state of Nevada. This county comprises the northwestern part of the State, of which Minden itself is the county seat. Minden itself is home to a small population, with only 3000 people living there as of 2010 (and thus subject to change in the decade since).
Regarding its pollution levels, midway through 2021, Minden presented with some fairly decreased levels of air quality, coming in with more dangerous readings, for both the inhabitants as well as the various ecosystems in the surrounding areas (with pollution having a detrimental effect on localized climate as well as the environment). In late July of 2021, Minden presented with a US AQI reading of 136, which placed it into the 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' rating bracket for the given time in which the reading was taken. This rating bracket is color-coded as orange and requires a US AQI reading of anywhere between 101 to 150 to be classified as such.
US AQI itself refers to the United States Air Quality Index and is used as a golden standard due to its more stringent regulations in place regarding what safe or acceptable levels of air quality are (with other international ones being far more lenient in what is considered as acceptable and thus possibly portraying unhealthy levels of air quality as being safe). The color-coding systems in place range from green (which represents the most optimal level of air quality at 0 to 50 on the US AQI scale) all the way up to considerably darker colors such as red, purple and maroon representing far more dangerous levels of air pollution, which make themselves present when events such as wildfires occur, causing the PM2.5 count and other pollutants to spike rapidly, causing a myriad of health issues for those in surrounding areas.
At the time in which the above-mentioned level of US AQI was taken, the PM2.5 count was found to be four times higher than what is deemed as a safe level of exposure, as set out by the World Health Organization's (WHO's) recommendations. This could present many health issues for certain portions of the population, with more at-risk groups being susceptible to the negative effects brought on by extended pollution exposure.
These at-risk groups include people such as young children and babies, who are still undergoing the vital formative years of their life and are thus extremely sensitive to any changes or damage incurred to their various organs or nervous system, brought on by pollution exposure (with many chemicals and fine particles being able to cause a wide range of different ailments to the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys, as well as even affecting cognitive or motor functions).
Others include pregnant women, who can have the health of their unborn child adversely affected due to the pollutants entering the mother’s body also reaching that of the child. Elderly citizens can also be affected with many respiratory or cardiac issues, with the former being able to turn into more serious or terminal conditions, due to elderly citizens often having a disposition towards such ailments (with cases of pollution-induced coughing or inflammation on occasion progressing into more serious cases such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an umbrella term which encompasses the previously mentioned conditions. Those with pre-existing health issues as well as those with compromised immune systems may also be at risk for unwanted side effects.
Referring back to pollution levels in Minden, it can be seen that besides the aforementioned 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' reading of US AQI present, throughout July other readings such as 8 and 17 were present, showing the most optimal rating of 'good' air quality, which requires a US AQI reading of 0 to 50 to be classified as such. To demonstrate the wide varieties of air quality readings that occurred in one single month, further US AQI figures of 69 and 86 were also taken, placing the city in the 'moderate' rating bracket over the first few days of July.
Towards the end of the month is when the air quality took a turn for the worst, indicating that the atmosphere would be heavily permeated with smoke, haze, clouds of fine particles and other unwanted air contaminants. Readings of 151 and 167 were recorded over mid-July, placing Minden into the 'unhealthy' ratings bracket (color-coded as red and requiring 151 to 200 for classification). The most severe case of pollution presented on the 18th of July, which had a US AQI reading of 253. This placed Minden into the ‘very unhealthy’ bracket, requiring a reading of 201 to 300, and would come with a high level of PM2.5 in the atmosphere at the same time, causing many ill health effects amongst those exposed.
A reading such as this would most likely only ever be attained due to the burning of large amounts of organic material, which occurs during rapidly spreading wildfires. Such fires can produce smoke clouds that can drift great distances and settle over cities many miles away, indicating that fires do not need to be occurring directly next to a city or town to affect their air cleanliness levels. In closing, it can be seen that Minden has many spells of extremely optimal air cleanliness, which can be tarnished by the advent of fires, as well as other anthropogenic or industrial activities contributing to occasional year-round raises in pollution (considered as ‘ambient’ pollution sources).
Besides the factor of wildfires causing largely elevated pollution readings (skewing the yearly averages by a significant amount), there would also be several other polluting events that occur within Minden, which as mentioned often come from human-based or industrial activity, and can be compounded by certain meteorological conditions. Certain times of the year that have higher temperatures and sunlight can cause chemical compounds such as ozone (O3) to build up, typically around roads or areas that see a higher than normal volume of traffic (which can be compounded further by rush hour traffic, although this is far more common in cities with larger populations). Ozone is one of the main pollutants that is used in the US AQI figure, which itself is aggregated from the various main pollutants found in the air throughout the United States. These include, besides the aforementioned ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and the two forms of particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM10 (with PM2.5 being the far more dangerous of the two, with its minute size as well as the various materials it is comprised of giving it a whole host of issues that it can cause to the human body).
Causes of PM2.5 buildup in Minden would be sources such as vehicular emissions. Cars, motorbikes and other personal vehicles in use would emit fumes into the atmosphere, causing secondary pollutants such as ozone to form, as well as giving out many primary pollutants. Secondary pollutants are typically formed in the atmosphere, under the right meteorological conditions (abundance of sunlight, lack of prevailing wind and rain to blow away pollution buildups), whilst primary pollutants come directly from a source, which could be a car engine, a factory boiler or a fire.
Besides smaller vehicles being in use and adding to the overall pollution levels, larger freight vehicles would also be in use throughout Minden and surrounding areas, with ones such as lorries, trucks and buses transporting people and industrial goods or produce in and out of the various cities in Nevada. These larger vehicles often utilize diesel as their main fuel source, which due to being a fossil fuel can put out far more pollution than an alternative or cleaner fuel source would. Their great size and weight can also compound the situation further, as well as putting out many tons of microscopic rubber particles into the atmosphere, along with bodies of water and the soil. This can lead to fine particles entering the food chain, making their way up to humans, as well as causing pulmonary issues when inhaled directly. The eventual wear and tear of tire treads from all vehicles can build up to significant proportions over the years, contributing further to the pollution that vehicles can give off.
Other sources include emissions from factories, industrial sites and power plants. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, diesel, oil and natural gas is problematic throughout the United States, and indeed much of the world. Power provided to homes and places of business requires power plants to burn through coal, thus releasing their pollutants (some of which will be discussed in further detail later in the article, due to the wide variety of pollutants that can be released from the combustion of fossil fuels).
Particle pollution can also be released from construction sites, the demolition of buildings and other similar structures, as well as road repairs. Such activities tend to release far more fine particles than many more people are cognizant of, and as such they can add to the PM2.5 collective within a city or region, particularly if construction sites are not properly maintained (with a lack of proper hosing down of fine dust or covering sand piles leading the many ultrafine particles entering into the air under the right weather conditions). In closing, Minden has many sources of air pollution much like many cities and states throughout America. However, it seems that the more prominent spikes of air pollution come from wildfires.
During such bouts of high pollution, such as the previously mentioned spikes in the US AQI figures, certain preventative measures should be put into place to safeguard one’s health from the highly detrimental effects that pollution can bring. These include the wearing of fine particle filtering masks, as well as avoiding outdoor or strenuous activity (with activities such as jogging being advised against, due to increased breathing rates and thus inhaling considerably more pollutants). Doors and windows can also be closed to prevent indoor pollution levels from rising to unhealthy levels.
Such air quality levels can be monitored via the AirVisual app, as well as the forecasts and air quality map available on this page.
Observing the levels of PM2.5 that were recorded over the year of 2020, it can be seen when the highest levels of air pollution were presenting towards the end of the year. Whilst certain months will once again be skewed by occurrences of fires, the readings will also reflect a general level of air pollution due to seasonal differences (with wildfires occurring more commonly during certain times of the year) along with other ambient sources of air pollution.
In 2020, Minden came in with a yearly PM2.5 average reading of 13.1 μg/m³. This placed it in 1633rd place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 1st place out of all cities ranked in Nevada for the same year. This is a significantly high ranking for an American city, indicating that there were some significant air quality issues over the year, with one month, in particular, standing out.
The months of September through to October came in with the highest readings of PM2.5, which were 24.5 μg/m³, 54.3 μg/m³ and 11.7 μg/m³ respectively. This placed September as the topmost polluted month of the year, and the only one achieves an 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' rating, indicating that the air quality during this month would be detrimental to many amongst the population. Following this pattern, it can be said that the air quality may tend to get worse towards the end of the year, even without the advent of serious wildfires.
Some other pollutants found in the air in Minden besides the ones included in the US AQI index are black carbon (the main component of soot), along with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some examples of VOCs include benzene, styrene, toluene and formaldehyde, and can all be released from combustion sources including wildfires. Other pollutants that can be released from fires or other forms of combustion include heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium, along with dioxins, furans, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Fine silica particles can also add to the ultrafine particle collective, and like many of the pollutants mentioned, have carcinogenic properties when inhaled.
Once again using 2020 as an example, Minden showed the most appreciable levels of air quality from February through to June. Whilst nine months of the year fell below the WHO's target of 10 μg/m³ or less for the best quality of air, the aforementioned months had even more optimal air quality, coming in with extremely good readings. From February to June, they were 2.8 μg/m³, 2.7 μg/m³, 2.2 μg/m³, 2.9 μg/m³ and 4.2 μg/m³.
This showed the April was the cleanest month of the year with its reading of 2.2 μg/m³, and the months surrounding it also had extremely good levels of air quality, significantly freer from clouds of smoke, haze and hazardous polluting particles.
Data sources 1