Travelers Breathe Dust Abroad, but Is the USA Polluted?

I accidentally discovered a way to test the air for pollution, and I am breathing dirt, there is no doubt in my mind.

The world is polluted, or at least that is what they tell me. Often, I want to crawl into a hole, hide my head, and say, “Leave me alone. I love ignorance.”

USA Air Pollution Test

Two Main Air Pollutants

1. Chemicals
2. Dust and Dirt

I am not going to talk about smokers. I do not smoke, and truthfully, it is rather easy to avoid secondhand smoke nowadays. The world does change, and often for the better.

Simple Water Pollution Test

Seeing is believing, smelling is believing, tasting is believing. Fill a bucket with water. If you cannot see the bottom, if it smells bad or if it tastes bad, maybe you better not drink it.

Simple Air Pollution Tests

1. Coughing, hacking and spitting – This is a sure sign that the air you are breathing is polluted, at least with the big stuff.

2. White glove test – Take your finger, a white glove or just a white t-shirt and rub it on a table. Clean the table, then do it again the next day, and you can discover how much dust, dirt and particulate matter settled from the air.

3. Bug Bagger test – I am selling the Bug Bagger on, and it filters out bugs. They are vacuumed into the mosquito net material. This material is so thin, so porous, that it allows the air to flow freely through the net. However, mosquitoes and other insects are too big to pass through the net and are captured, bagged by the Bug Bagger.

Bug Bagger Black With Dirt in Two Days

However, while in Lome, Togo, the capital of Togo, the Bug Bagger became black, truly horrible, in just two days.

Bug Bagger Brown in Two Weeks

Here in Kara, Togo, the bag is slowly turning brown from the dusty road outside my apartment. Fortunately, I am on a road where you seldom see a dust storm.

This is fun but also scary. I am breathing this stuff! Is it like working in a coal mine?

USA Air Pollution

Yes, we Americans are hyper-sensitive, hyper-aware, and if you look at the map, it does show that more people in the USA die per million from air pollution than in Togo. My advice is that you don’t believe this for a second. It just means that the USA documents death from air pollution better than Togo. There is no doubt in my mind this is true because air pollution and smog are easy to see in the 200-plus poor countries.

Cotonou, Benin, Motorcyle Smog

A few world travelers were having a discusssion about Cotonou, Benin, where there is a cloud of motorcyle fumes that you can see. It is horrible.

Seeing is believing. If I can see it, then it scares me more than reading about it.

Well, the Bug Bagger needs to be cleaned. I will turn it inside out, put it in a bucket of water, clean it, and try again to test the air. This time, I will write down the date that I turned on the fan.

Window screens or mosquito nets on windows here in Togo just may save more lives from air pollution than from Malaria.

Have fun,
Andy L. Graham
Kara, Togo, 2013


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