No one likes to live in filth and squalidness –– or so we tell ourselves. The contradiction manifests itself in the litter strewn across our beaches, parks and other spots of our landscape; the industrial and domestic garbage dumped anywhere and everywhere; the Government and privately owned open lots overrun by weed and bush.
And some of us shout to the heavens about this uncleanliness and defilement –– virtually in vain; and the powers that be, as if to appease when they do respond, promise national public education programmes on how to be tidy and clean, and sometimes openly threaten stiffer penalties for persistent offenders, but nothing comes of either. And we resign ourselves to the ubiquitous foulness and sleaze, and self-endurance.
And curiously enough, we are sometimes told we worry too much about the scattered refuse, bush, dirt and grime; that we seem not half as concerned about the filth we breathe in: all those particles and chemicals floating about in the air. We are told we are more taken with cobweb in the corners, lizard dung and bathtub mildew than we are about air quality: outdoors and indoors.
There are some environmental experts who argue that indoor air is as, or more, polluted than theoutdoor. After all, indoor air is hardly ever not affected by outdoor pollution.
As though those of us who work with the air conditioning central system or window unit have come to know well, air conditioner filters can be a conduit for a great deal of the muck and contamination from the outside: pollen, dirt and exhaust smoke, the leaking of which is constantly recirculated in the indoor air we breathe as we labour.
The workers of some of our Government departments are not unknown to walk off the job when working is grossly uncomfortable and the affliction of respiratory illness becomes more acute. In such cases, the experts say, the discomfort is a consequence of the lack of proper checking (or cleaning or complete replacing) of the air conditioning system’s filter –– which should be done at least once a month.
Of course, it does not help that we –– at home and in the office –– contribute to the impurity that we breathe in the very exercise of being clean and tidy. Those furniture cleaners and other household cleaning sprays and liquids, with which we surmise we are exchanging bad for good, lead to a build-up of unpleasant guests like formaldehyde and other such compounds.
We are advised that instead of going for the highly scented bug spray and air deodorizer, which likely contain pyrethrins that have been shown to cause nausea headaches, hallucinations and asthma attacks, to put the cap on the cleaning, we should use the less toxic Clorox or boric acid, which is hardly harmful unless directly inhaled, or the simple underutilized white vinegar.
We are also advised, when it is practical to do so, to leave the windows of our air-conditioned offices open when it is not too hot and allow some fresh air in. Naturally, the air conditioner is already turned off. Then when it becomes hot enough, we close them again, switch our air conditioner to Recirculated Air, as it is more energy-efficient, since we are cooling already cool air, and the air conditioner’s filter, cleaned or replaced, can then trap most of the pollutants blown inside.
Surely, breathing as clean an air as possible will depend to a great extent on our holistic approach to a sustainably green environment. And while we may be fairly accused of paying more attention to the state of litter and putrescence than the quality itself of what we inhale, we can’t help but acknowledge the breath of fresh air coming from the Barbados National Oil Company and SOL (Barbados) in particular on their announced ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD) that should now be replacing from this month the regular diesel at service stations across the island.
Not only is SOL (Barbados) promising much less contaminated exhaust fumes with its “ULSD with an additive”, it is guaranteeing savings through its Go Even Further Diesel programme –– up to ten kilometres more per tank.
This fresh ultra low sulphur diesel is said to contain a new “breathe easier” formulation and additive, which would “remove deposits in diesel injectors, reducing particulate matter emissions by up to 30 per cent”. And, apart from this increased mileage per tank, we are advised, there are resultant lower maintenance costs by its use –– less foaming and fewer cold starts.
There will be thus no cause now –– nor excuse –– for public service vehicles enveloping us in extensive black clouds, in particular the minibuses and ZR vans that jocky perilously among us law-abiding road users for positions on the streets and for targeted commuters, day in day out. Apparently, behind those dark BM and ZR clouds there was bound to come some silver lining. We are appreciative and grateful the Barbados National Oil Company and SOL.
Now we may breathe easier –– inside and outside.