PM 2.5 is fine inhalable particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in diameter (about 1/30th the width of a human hair). Fairbanks has serious problems with PM 2.5; levels often exceed the standard set by the EPA. Many epidemiological studies show a strong correlation between exposure to PM 2.5 and increased morbidity, not just from respiratory complications, but mainly due to cardiovascular diseases. This is because the smallest of the ultrafine particles in PM 2.5 can diffuse from the alveoli of the lungs across the respiratory membrane and into the systemic circulation of the body.
My art piece explores the interaction of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems as it relates to inhalation of PM 2.5. To make the image, I searched for historical AQI for three cities I have lived in over the last decade: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Islamabad, Pakistan; and Fairbanks, Alaska. I downloaded data from sensors in each location over a two month period. I then stacked the data for each location in an area chart over a sixty day period, exported the graph as an image, and edited the image to make the illustration. The silhouette of the climber in the far right represents me tackling health challenges I may face in the future as a result of long term cumulative exposure to high levels of PM 2.5.