Living downwind of a power plant?
February 15, 2007 10:45 PM   Subscribe

I just rented workspace/artspace which is directly downwind of the huge coal-fired power plant. (Didn't realize it until after I signed the lease). Short of moving, what steps can I take to minimize the negative health effects of the situation.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Respro masks -- some of these are comfortable. They really filter out the particles. Of course, if you are doing heavy work, they are going to get damp inside, which is yucky, and conversation is no good either. The bandit one you can boil every once in a while to clean.
posted by Listener at 11:13 PM on February 15, 2007

Air filter?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 PM on February 15, 2007

HEPA filters may improve indoor air quality by lowering particulate matter (dust), depending on a lot of factors including your distance from the plant smokestacks, your building's relative air tightness, and the number of days wind actually carries pollution to your premises. But filters won't do much about sulphur dioxide, various mercury compounds in gaseous form, radon, and other gaseous pollutants.

There isn't any completely practical residential or commercial solution for handling gaseous pollutants that is easy to operate and affordable, although multi-stage activated charcoal filters and some kinds of wet scrubbers have been tried in special circumstances. But for leased workspace, such systems don't seem too practical. If you limit your exposure on particularly bad air days, use HEPA filters which you change regularly while working there, and aren't particularly pre-disposed to health problems like asthsma or bronchitis, you might be OK. Survival air systems such as firefighters wear are another means of ensuring quality, unpolluted breathing air, but they are obviously expensive to obtain and operate, and require training.

Do you have any rights to sub-let the space during the term of your lease? What doesn't work as work space, might be fine as dead storage space for someone else.
posted by paulsc at 1:34 AM on February 16, 2007

They are peaking plants, meaning they probably only run when it is very hot and maybe when it is very cold. You should see if you can find out how much of the year they actually run before you spend money on the situation. I'd think coal peakers run even less then most given how inefficient cold starting a coal plant is.

Also those gross #'s you link to seem really scary out of context, but it is probably more meaningful to look at them relative to total exhaust volume and compare that to general air conditions in Chicago as a whole. They may still be scary, I don't know. Just saying a gross number like that is pretty misleading.
posted by JPD at 3:48 AM on February 16, 2007

In a different vein, perhaps look into whether or not the landlord was legally obligated to disclose the proximity of the plant. Depending on where you live, EPA/Health regulations might require the disclosure. If so, you have cause to break your lease. Just a thought.

posted by gb77 at 4:30 AM on February 16, 2007

posted by jefficator at 3:36 PM on February 16, 2007

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