Canceling and postponing events to avoid spreading the Corona virus got me thinking about air. In high school chemistry, Mr. Tuft taught us pure air is a mix of gases. Mostly Oxygen, right? Wrong! As memory serves, pure air is around seventy percent Nitrogen and twenty percent Oxygen. Hydrogen, Helium and other inert gasses make up the rest.
Most animals can’t live without Oxygen, without air. But everyday air carries a host of freeloaders: water vapor, methane, CO2, scents, dust, fungi, bacteria, viruses, God-knows-what else? For our biological wellbeing this excess baggage can become a Really Big Deal!
Back to public events. Portland’s Moda Center seats 19,393. At a fully-packed Trailblazer game, 19,392 others—the jerk in the sweaty T-shirt two rows down, the squealing teenager behind me—are sucking in and blowing out the very same air I’m sucking in and blowing out. The same Nitrogen and Oxygen—our lungs capture only a small percent—the same vapors, gasses, dust, pollen, fungi, germs, viruses, not to mention farts. I’m told farts are flammable methane. In a three hour basketball game how many lungs suck in and blown out the very same air my lungs suck in and blow out!
Just our little Moda Center. How about swapping air with thousands at a rock concert, tens-of-thousands at a World Series or Super Bowl game, two million circling the Kaaba at Mecca? Think about it—or maybe better not.