Billions on health remedies

As more and more Americans are starting to realize that conventional medicine does not hold the answers to their problems, their spending on natural health remedies is rising. In fact, a study that was recently released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that Americans spend $30.2 billion on complementary health approaches each year. When you consider the fact that they spend $328.8 billion on out-of-pocket health expenditures overall, the significant portion of health-related spending occupied by alternative remedies becomes quite clear.

The study used data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which was then weighted to come up with estimates that more accurately represent the nation’s population at large.

According to the researchers, one out of every five Americans over the age of 4 spent money on at least one complementary health approach. Some of the treatments that fall under this category include tai chi, massage therapy, homeopathic treatment, energy healing therapy, chiropractic manipulation and hypnosis.

Natural product supplements like fish oil, probiotics and digestive enzymes were more popular than visits to alternative health practitioners. This type of expense is not typically covered by health insurance, which means that families who have higher incomes tend to use them more often than those in lower income brackets.

Another interesting finding was that the $12.8 billion spent on natural product supplements alone in 2012 is equal to about a quarter of the amount of money spent on prescription drug use that year, which was $54 billion.

Complementary healthcare users aged four and older spent $510 per year on average on these approaches.

‘People are fed up’

The National Products Association’s Executive Director, Daniel Fabricant, who also happens to be a former FDA Director of Dietary Supplement Programs, said:

“People are fed up with the type of care they get from primary physicians that is covered by insurance. Across the board, people are looking for ways to stay healthy on their own.”

He pointed out that the average doctor sees 40 patients a day, spending just seven minutes with each one on average. This means that people don’t feel engaged with their doctors, and are taking matters into their own hands.

Big Pharma losing ground

Another factor at play here is people’s growing disillusionment with the deceitful practices of Big Pharma, whose overpriced medications often do little to cure problems, and can leave people in worse shape than when they started, thanks to their many side effects. Pharmaceutical firms are also known to engage in deceptive research tactics, and people are now seeing for themselves how many of their “solutions” send people into a cycle of dependency without really curing anything.

According to The Economist, Americans spend a whopping 20.9 percent of their total household expenditures on health costs, far exceeding other countries. As more people realize that Big Pharma profits from people being sick, they are turning to alternative options.

This sea-change in attitude can also be evidenced by consumers’ increasing preference for organic produce. The world’s second-largest retailer, Costco, announced this year that organic sales had jumped 72 percent since 2008, with its organics sales totaling $4 billion last year.

The message is clear: Americans are fed up with Big Pharma. They are tired of the lies. People don’t want to load their bodies up with the dangerous chemicals found in medications. They don’t want their fruits and vegetables to be laced with pesticides. And their spending habits are starting to back this up. One can only hope this trend will continue, with natural health spending eventually outstripping that of conventional medicine.



Half brain away from home

There’s a soft mattress, a warm duvet, and a mint on your pillow. But despite the comfort of the hotel bed, you toss and turn on your first night away. Sound familiar? It could be because your left brain refuses to switch off properly when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings.

This so-called first night effect is well-known in sleep research. Because of this, when studying sleep patterns in the lab, researchers sometimes discard data from the first night to allow participants time to get used to their surroundings.

To understand this phenomenon, Masako Tamaki and colleagues at Brown University, Rhode Island, scanned the brains of 11 healthy volunteers while they slept on two occasions, a week apart. While asleep, they analysed their slow waves – low-frequency patterns of brain activity that reflect how deeply someone is sleeping.

Half asleep

The first time, they found that slow-wave activity was weaker in the brain’s left hemisphere than in the right, suggesting that the left side was more alert. Slow-wave activity was particularly weak in a pathway involved in spontaneous thought while we’re awake, called the default mode network.

A week later, slow-wave activity in the left hemisphere was higher, and was similar to that of the right. The team found that the greater the similarity in slow-wave activity in the two hemispheres, the faster a person fell asleep.

To test how much more alert a person is when they sleep somewhere new, the team then ran a similar experiment, but played sounds to participants through earphones while they slept. On the first occasion, their left hemispheres responded more strongly to the sounds than a week later.

Sleeping like a dolphin

Some birds and marine mammals are known to put only half of their brain to sleep at a time, so that they can stay vigilant. Tamaki thinks something similar might be going on in our brains when we’re in an unfamiliar environment.

The default mode network is involved in mind wandering and thinking about future events. It is spread across the brain, but it seems like only the part located in the left hemisphere may be acting as a “night watch”, monitoring conditions around us and alerting us to potential danger.

The reason for this is unclear, but it could be because the left hemisphere has stronger connectivity between its constituent regions, which might make it more effective as a night watch, Tamaki says.

If you want to increase your chances of sleeping well in strange surroundings, Tamaki suggests you simply accept your fate. “Try not to worry too much since worrying itself would wake up the brain,” she says. If you need to be well-rested for an event, think about arriving two nights early, she adds. “You can also bring something that makes you feel comfortable with a new place.”

Adrian Williams, a sleep medicine researcher at King’s College London, says the first night effect contrasts with the experience of his insomnia patients, who often sleep better away from home since they associate their own bedroom with not sleeping. But the results are convincing and intriguing, he says.


Three headaches for recycling industry

The most advanced recycling operations in the world divert 75 percent or more of community waste away from landfills. In their efforts to achieve 100 percent recycling, or so-called Zero Waste, three products have proved particularly stubborn:


The trouble is twofold: Diapers tend to be made of composite materials, including more than one type of plastic, and there is, of course, the organic waste.

Gary Liss, a recycling consultant in Northern California who sits on the board of several nonprofit recycling groups, including Zero Waste USA, said he knew of one model for recycling diapers, still in the trial stage in Santa Clarita, Calif., that involves separate curbside pickup for used diapers and then the pulling apart and cleaning of the constituent parts. But it’s expensive, Mr. Liss said, and economics are a big part of any recycling equation.

One way to pay for an approach like this would be for diaper manufacturers to include in the diaper’s sales price the cost of picking up used diapers and peeling them apart. But that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Mr. Liss said the diaper problem might get worse before it gets better. The reason: baby boomers. “It’s going to be an increasing amount of material as we use adult diapers,” he said. “We’re all headed that way.”

Plastic Bags

They are inexpensive and great for lugging light loads. But they are a nightmare for recycling plants, because they are so diaphanous that they float and cling and wrap and gum up multimillion-dollar machinery.

They’re such a problem at Recology, an advanced recycling operation in San Francisco, that it used to shut down twice a day so that workers with box knives could cut the plastic bags out of the spinning discs that help separate paper from cans and bottles.

In 2012, San Francisco banned plastic bags at retail stores, but they still show up at the recycling plant and force workers to do regular cleanings — “like clearing your lungs,” said Robert Reed, Recology’s spokesman.

A growing number of cities require retailers to charge for bags at checkout, discouraging their use. And Patty Moore, president of Moore Recycling Associates, in Sonoma, Calif., which does recycling consulting and research, says there are roughly 18,000 plastic-bag drop-off sites in the United States, many of them at grocery stores.

From there, the bags — and other plastic “film,” like the plastic used to wrap toilet paper or paper towel rolls — are shipped to recyclers. The material is made into new bags or used for composite decking or other plastic products. (Bags are not alone among the plastic products that present recycling challenges; packing foam peanuts, for example, are also problematic.)

Juice Boxes

They are a perfect example of composites, a vexing category for recyclers that includes a wide range of items, like furniture or consumer packaging that binds different materials together, such as plastics and metal and paper fibers. See, too: diapers. (The juice-box industry says a typical nonrefrigerated carton, as it’s called, includes 74 percent paper, 22 percent polyethylene and 4 percent aluminum.)

Those layers help preserve drinks, but also make the boxes extremely difficult to pull apart.

And to recycle, you must first sort. “It’s like separating an egg yolk from an egg,” Mr. Liss said of the composites problem. “It’s much easier to do before you stir it up.”

One possible solution is to create packaging that allows the materials to be more easily separated. Mr. Liss said an industry recycling group, The Carton Council, had been created to address the problem by developing additional sorting equipment. “The good news is that the industry is trying to figure it out,” Mr. Liss said. “They saw the problem, and they’re stepping up to address it.”


The sphinx is 800.000 years old

One of the most mysterious and enigmatic monuments on the surface of the planet is without a doubt the Great Sphinx at the Giza plateau in Egypt. It is an ancient construction that has baffled researchers ever since its discovery and until today, no one has been able to accurately date the Sphinx, since there are no written records or mentions in the past about it. Now, two Ukrainian researchers have proposed a new provocative theory where the two scientists propose that the Great Sphinx of Egypt is around 800,000 years old. A Revolutionary theory that is backed up by science.

The study was presented at the International Conference of Geoarchaeology and Archaeomineralogy held in Sofia titled: GEOLOGICAL ASPECT OF THE PROBLEM OF DATING THE GREAT EGYPTIAN SPHINX CONSTRUCTION.

The authors of this paper are scientists Manichev Vjacheslav I. (Institute of Environmental Geochemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) and Alexander G. Parkhomenko (Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine).

The starting point of these two experts is the paradigm shift initiated by West and Schoch, a ‘debate’ intended to overcome the orthodox view of Egyptology referring to the possible remote origins of the Egyptian civilization and, on the other, physical evidence of water erosion present at the monuments of the Giza Plateau.

According to Manichev and Parkhomenko:

“The problem of dating the Great Egyptian Sphinx construction is still valid, despite of the long-term history of its research. Geological approach in connection to other scientific-natural methods permits to answer the question about the relative age of the Sphinx. The conducted visual investigation of the Sphinx allowed the conclusion about the important role of water from large water bodies which partially flooded the monument with formation of wave-cut hollows on its vertical walls.”

“The morphology of these formations has an analogy with similar such hollows formed by the sea in the coastal zones. Genetic resemblance of the compared erosion forms and the geological structure and petrographic composition of sedimentary rock complexes lead to a conclusion that the decisive factor of destruction of the historic monument is the wave energy rather than sand abrasion in Eolian process. Voluminous geological literature confirms the fact of existence of long-living fresh-water lakes in various periods of the Quaternary from the Lower Pleistocene to the Holocene. These lakes were distributed in the territories adjacent to the Nile. The absolute mark of the upper large erosion hollow of the Sphinx corresponds to the level of water surface which took place in the Early Pleistocene. The Great Egyptian Sphinx had already stood on the Giza Plateau by that geological (historical) time.”

A strong argument was made by Ukrainian scientists in regards of the Sphinx, arguments based upon geological studies which support Schoch’s view regarding the Sphinx and its age. Manichev and Parkhomenko focus on the deteriorated aspect of the body of the Sphinx, leaving aside the erosive features where the Sphinx is located, which had been studied previously by Schoch. Ukrainian scholars focused on the undulating terrain of the Sphinx which displays the mysterious pattern.

Mainstream scientists offer explanations for this sharp feature and state that it is based on the abrasive effect of the wind and sand, the undulations were formed because the harder layers of rock are better at withstanding the erosions while the softer layers would have been more affected, forming voids.

However, as noted Manichev and Parkhomenko, this argument does not explain why the front of the head of the Sphinx lacks such features. In regards to the argument made by Schoch about the heavy rain period which occurred around 13,000 BC, the Ukrainian scientists recognized Schoch hypothesis partially suggesting that the erosive features of the Sphinx go further back than 13.000 BC. Manichev and Parkhomenko argue is that the mountainous and coastal areas of the Caucasus and Crimea, which they know well, have a type of wind erosion that differs morphologically to the erosive features noted on the Sphinx. Essentially, they argue that such wind erosion has a very soft effect, regardless of the geological composition of the rocks.

“In our geological field expeditions in different mountains and littoral zones of the Crimea and Caucasus we could often observe the forms of Eolian weathering which morphology differs considerably from the weathering taking place on the GES. Most natural forms of weathering are of smoothed character, independent of lithological composition of the rocks.”

They continue further and explain:

“Our personal experience in scientific investigation of geology of the sea coasts gives reasons to draw an analogy with the GES and to suggest another mechanism of its destruction. Specialists-geologists, who work in the field of sea-coast geomorphology, know such forms of relief as wave-cut hollows (Morskaya Geomorfologiya, 1980). They can be one- and multi-storey. They are arranged horizontally to the sea water surface, if the coast makes a vertical wall (cliff). Especially deep wave-cut hollows are formed in precipitous cliffs built by the strata of carbonaceous rocks. Such forms of the coast relief are well-known and studied in detail on the Black-Sea coast of the Caucasus and Crimea (Popov, 1953; Zenkovich, 1960). General model of formation of the wave-cut hollows in the rocks of the Caucasian flysch is given by Popov (1953, 162; Fig. 3). In dynamics of the process of wave-cut hollows formation one can notice such a characteristic feature that the wave energy is directed to the rock stratum at the level of water surface. Besides, both saline and fresh water can dissolve the rocks.”

Manichev and Parkhomenko propose a new natural mechanism that may explain the undulations and mysterious features of the Sphinx. This mechanism is the impact of waves on the rocks of the coast. Basically, this could produce, in a period of thousands of years the formation of one or more layers of ripples, a fact that is clearly visible, for example, on the shores of the Black Sea. This process, which acts horizontally (that is, when the waves hit the rock up to the surface), will produce a wear or dissolution of the rock.

The fact is that the observation of these cavities in the Great Sphinx made the Ukranian scientists think that this great monument could have been affected by above said process in the context of immersion in large bodies of water, not the regular flooding of the Nile.

Manichev and Parkhomenko suggest that the geological composition of the body of the Sphinx is a sequence of layers composed of limestone with small interlayers of clays. Manichev and Parkhomenko explain that these rocks possess different degree of resistance to the water effect and say that if the hollows formation were due to sand abrasion only, the hollows had to correspond to the strata of a certain lithological composition. They suggest that the Great Sphinx hollows are formed in fact within several strata, or occupy some part of the stratum of homogeneous composition.

Manichev and Parkhomenko firmly believe that the Sphinx had to be submerged for a long time under water and, to support this hypothesis, they point towards existing literature of geological studies of the Giza Plateau. According to these studies at the end of the Pliocene geologic period (between 5.2 and 1.6 million years ago), sea water entered the Nile valley and gradually creating flooding in the area. This led to formation of lacustrine deposits which are at the mark of 180 m above the present level of the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Manichev and Parkhomenko, it is the sea level during the Calabrian phase which is the closest to the present mark with the highest GES hollow at its level. High level of sea water also caused the Nile overflowing and created long-living water-bodies. As to time it corresponds to 800000 years.

What we have here is evidence which contradicts the conventional theory of deterioration caused by Sand and Water, a theory already criticized by West and Schoch, who recalled that during many centuries, the body of the Sphinx was buried by the sands of the desert, so Wind and Sand erosion would not have done any damage to the enigmatic Sphinx.

However, where Schoch clearly saw the action of streams of water caused by continuous rains, Ukrainian geologists see the effect of erosion caused by the direct contact of the waters of the lakes formed in the Pleistocene on the body Sphinx. This means that the Great Sphinx of Egypt is one of the oldest monuments on the surface of the Earth, pushing back drastically the origin of mankind and civilization.

Some might say that the theory proposed by Manichev and Parkhomenko is very extreme because it places the Great Sphinx in an era where there were no humans, according to currently accepted evolutionary patterns. Furthermore, as it has been demonstrated, the two megalithic temples, located adjacent to the Great Sphinx were built by the same stone which means that the new dating of the Sphinx drags these monuments with the Sphinx back 800,000 years. In other words, this means that ancient civilizations inhabited our planet much longer than mainstream scientists are willing to accept.


NOT Holding the line, anymore

If you hate hold music, you’ll love this.

Boston-based startup GetHuman on Wednesday unveiled a new service that lets you pay $5 to $25 to hire a “problem solver” who will call a company’s customer service line on your behalf to resolve issues. Prices vary depending on the company, but GetHuman offers to fight for your airline refund, deal with Facebook account issues, or perhaps even prevent a grueling call with Comcast to disconnect your service.

“These customer service procedures have become these long obstacle courses for us,” Christian Allen, GetHuman’s CEO, said in an interview. “We avoid them, we procrastinate, and in some cases we don’t do them at all.”

Allen knows the struggles with customer service all too well, after he put off canceling a hotspot service through a wireless carrier. When he finally got around to making the call, he was bounced around and ended up stuck on the phone. Three months later, he had to go through the whole process again because the service hadn’t been canceled the first time around.

“I spent three hours of my life to do this really simple, binary decision,” he said.

GetHuman can work as a consumer’s assistant, Allen said, but some companies do require more authorization than others.

GetHuman started as a company phone directory that helps people find shortcuts to a live person. But after realizing that getting people the right numbers was only half the battle, Allen said, GetHuman decided to start a pilot of its new “problem solvers” service late last year, saying it has already served nearly 10,000 people. The eight-person shop now has five full-timers whose primary job is working the phones trying to resolve other people’s customer service issues.

Allen says his employees are “experts” at this kind of work and he plans on hiring two more callers soon.

There are a few similar services for navigating the maze of customer service, including FastCustomer, which focuses more on saving you from waiting on hold.

Not everybody sounds so thrilled by GetHuman’s new service, though. Time Warner Cable, whose new ad campaign jokingly addresses its poor reputation with customer service, said it would still like to hear directly from its customers. But you don’t even have to call. They have 24/7 online chat support and the MyTWC app.

“Spending your money on a third party who doesn’t know you versus clicking on an app that lets you do self-service seems like an easy choice to us,” TWC spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said.


Capitalism killed laundry day

In the 1920s, the average housewife spent about 11.5 hours per week on laundry and ironing. By 1965, that had dropped to just under 7 hours. In 2014, that average housewife (and her spouse) spent about 20 minutes a day on the task, or just over 1.5 hours per week.

Laundry might be one of the most hated chores in the history of housework. It’s a Sisyphean task. The moment the job is done, there’s more laundry to do. And unlike cooking, which can be put off by ordering pizza or going out to eat, or dishes, which can be reduced by using paper plates, the laundry has to be done regularly. (Unless you’re a college student, of course.)

And so we complain about laundry all the time. And economists and others study it.

I started to think about laundry this week when a blog post that collected eight decades of images of clotheslines in New York crossed my desk. The images are a striking reminder of how laundry used to be done.

Scrolling through those images was an odd experience. I looked at them and admired the graceful arcs of the clotheslines and the ghostly flutter of the laundry that hung from them. I was reminded of “Love Calls Us to Things of This World,” a poem by Richard Wilbur about waking to the sights and sounds of laundry on the line. To the poet’s sleep-hazy and unspectacled eyes, the laundry on the line makes it look as if “the morning air is all awash with angels.” And the beauty of the vision prompts the poet’s soul to wish,

“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

It’s easy to look at laundry on the line and be swept away by memories of sun-dried sheets. But as with so many other tempting misconceptions that come when we are rich enough to play at being poor, our vision of what laundry “used to be like” has very little to do with what it actually was like.

For that, we have to turn from photographs to contemporary accounts.

When I’m looking for accounts of housework in earlier decades, I turn to Round about a Pound a Week, an exceptional demographic study of the working poor in 1913 Lambeth, a district in central London. But Round about a Pound is all but silent on the subject of laundry. I was mystified about why laundry was absent from a study that details everything from how the women of Lambeth chose to wash their front steps to why they bought flannelette clothing for the children. But the chapter that details how these women spent their days includes a small aside. When the study was done, the subjects told the observers not to record their schedule on washing day. “Washing-day was not considered fair by the mothers. They said, ‘You’d expect ter be a bit done-like washin’ day’; so an ordinary day was chosen in every case.”

The women in Lambeth knew laundry day was the hardest day of the week. They knew it was a statistical outlier, and they didn’t want an unfair assessment of how hard their average day was.

That, in itself, is telling.

But actual descriptions of laundry days are even more so. In 1949, Kate Smallshaw (a former editor of Good Housekeeping) wrote a determinedly cheerful book on housework called How to Run Your Home without Help. Marketed to the middle-class housewife learning to do without servants during the postwar domestic labor shortage, How to Run Your Home without Help was able to assume that its readers would have running water and electricity, unlike the women studied in Round about a Pound.

Even with plumbing and electricity, the 10 pages dedicated to “Doing the Washing” in How to Run Your Home make for exhausting reading. Describing a “very efficient single-handed housewife” and her average laundry day, Smallshaw notes,

“She knew the right way to tackle every household job, and took a pride in doing them all well. Yet with her practice she still finds Monday an ordeal. One reason is that her equipment is so poor. Her single sink, with one draining-board only, is placed in a corner. The wash-boiler, of the round type, won’t take a wringer. She could get a new kind of wringer that would fasten to the edge of the sink […] but she makes do with the old one that must be lugged in from the garden shed each time. […] On a bright day she can get the clothes dry in the garden; otherwise there’s the misery of lots of wet things flapping round the little kitchenette, for she has no drying cabinet of any kind.”

But even with the modern equipment lacked by this housewife, the laundry is an almost unimaginably arduous task when looked at from 2016. Here, for example, is Smallshaw’s description of the newly popular “hand operated simple washing machine”:

The machine is filled, by means of rubber tubing, from the kitchen tap. The water is then heated to the temperature required by gas or electricity, depending on the make of machine. Clothes can be left to soak, boiled up if necessary, or mechanically washed by means of a hand-operated “agitator.” They are then wrung into the kitchen sink for rinsing.

More expensive, newly available electric washers could help even more, though they still generally required manual filling and draining. And only the most expensive machines available came even close to approaching the luxurious kind of washer we can pick up for under $500 at Walmart or Sears today. (And we earn the money to buy that washer so much faster!)

But this only considers the issue of equipment. Smallshaw’s housewife had many other concerns that don’t even occur to today’s laundry doers: the need to run each item of clothing through the wringer twice; the separate boiling of handkerchiefs; the endless task of ironing. (Smallshaw does note that certain items, such as “all stockings and socks, woolen underwear, and men’s cellular or knitted-type cotton underwear, needn’t be [ironed], if time is an important factor.”)

All of this makes those photographs of the New York clotheslines a little more interesting and a little less dreamy. Notice that the laundry drying in those pictures is nearly all underwear, petticoats, sheets, and other whites. Washing the darker outer layers of clothing would have been done less often, because of the great weight (especially when wet) and extended drying time. Remember that in days when most homes heated with coal, those whites wouldn’t have stayed white for very long as they hung in the smoky air.

Those women who are leaning out their windows to hang out the wash may look quaint now, but they had been working at this task all day. And they would do it again the following week. And every single week after that. And those clotheslines? They may make a pretty picture in sunny weather, but picture a cold and rainy day, with all that wet laundry hanging in the tiny kitchen of your walk-up apartment in New York.

Consider all that, and then go watch the video below, and remember how much of the world today still does their wash in conditions even harder than those of 1949, or even 1913.

Recent advances in nanotechnology have created textiles that clean themselves with light. Fans of mid-century science fiction will instantly think of the Alex Guinness movie, The Man in the White Suit, where the invention of a similar product leads to panic among textile plant managers and union workers. While many are sure to react to this news with similar distress and to lament the loss of the picturesque clothesline, Hans Rosling and I say bring it on. As a little visit to the laundry rooms of the past reminds us, every minute we now spend doing laundry — no matter how few those minutes are — could be more joyously spent doing almost anything else.


A new BioWeapon

Air pollution has a significant and pervasive impact on public health. According to the World Health Organization, it is now considered “the world’s largest single environmental health risk,” with more than three million people dying every year as a result. This is more than twice the number of people that die in vehicle accidents each year.

Health and safety are important to us. Just as we’ve designed Model S and Model X to avoid collisions or protect their occupants when one happens, we felt compelled to protect them against the statistically more relevant hazard of air pollution*. Inspired by the air filtration systems used in hospitals, clean rooms, and the space industry, we developed a HEPA filtration system capable of stripping the outside air of pollen, bacteria, and pollution before they enter the cabin and systematically scrubbing the air inside the cabin to eliminate any trace of these particles. The end result is a filtration system hundreds of times more efficient than standard automotive filters, capable of providing the driver and her passengers with the best possible cabin air quality no matter what is happening in the environment around them.

The air filtration system was put to the test in real-world environments from California freeways during rush hour, to smelly marshes, landfills, and cow pastures in the central valley of California, to major cities in China. We wanted to ensure that it captured fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen and mold spores.

We then decided to take things a step further and test the complete system as we would on the road, but in an environment where we could precisely control and carefully monitor atmospheric conditions. A Model X was placed in a large bubble contaminated with extreme levels of pollution (1,000 µg/m³ of PM2.5 vs. the EPA’s “good” air quality index limit of 12 µg/m³). We then closed the falcon doors and activated Bioweapon Defense Mode.

In less than two minutes, the HEPA filtration system had scrubbed the air in Model X, bringing pollution levels from an extremely dangerous 1,000 µg/m³ to levels so low as to be undetectable (below the noise floor) by our instruments, allowing us to remove our gas masks and breathe fresh air while sitting inside a bubble of pollution.

Not only did the vehicle system completely scrub the cabin air, but in the ensuing minutes, it began to vacuum the air outside the car as well, reducing PM2.5 levels by 40%. In other words, Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real. You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car.

Moreover, it will also clean the air outside your car, making things better for those around you. And while this test happened to be done with a Model X, the same would be true of the new Model S now in production.

Tesla will continue to improve the micro-geometry and chemical passivation defenses in the primary and secondary filters, which are easily replaceable, so this will get better the longer you own your car. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.