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Reducing Air Pollution: What You Can Do Daily

Air pollution is harmful to people, animals, and plants. It irritates the respiratory system, causing discomfort and – in the long run – serious illness that may lead to death. Pollutants aggravate asthma, chronic lung diseases, and often cause permanent lung damage. While governments and businesses are taking steps to curb it, there are several measures you, as an individual, can adopt as well.

We’ve broken down what action you can take depending on pollution levels in your area.

What you can do every day

• Conserve energy at home and at work. You can do this by switching to solar panels (we’ve already written an article on it here).
• Use private transportation as infrequently as possible. Instead, try carpooling, public transport, biking, or walking whenever possible.
• Following gasoline refuelling instructions can aid efficient vapour recovery. Other simple precautions include being careful not to spill fuel (you can purchase portable ‘spill-proof’ gas containers for this) and making sure your gasp cap is securely tightened.
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated – under-inflated tires in a car can add 306,000 extra tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.
• Use eco-friendly household and cleaning products. This will make landfills safer and it will also reduce water pollution.

What you can do when high ozone levels are expected

While the ozone layer is essential to our well-being, ozone at ground level is a very harmful air pollutant that affects people and the environment. It is the main ingredient in smog. There are days – usually hot sunny ones although don’t rule out cold days either – where ground level ozone is particularly high. Which means you need to be extra careful.

• Choose a cleaner commute, combine errands and reduce trips.
• Avoid idling your car on the curb or in traffic.
• Refuel in the evening – refuelling in cooler temperatures cuts the number of pollutants released into the air.
• Conserve your electricity as much as possible and – no matter the temperature on this sort of day – don’t set your air conditioner lower than 78 degrees.
• Avoid gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment. Wait for the ozone levels to drop slightly.

What you can do when high particle levels are expected

Particle pollution or matter (also known as PM) refers to the mixture of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air. It is present in the air we breathe indoors and outdoors and some of it (dust, soot, smoke) is large enough to be seen with the naked eye. However, the greatest threat is posed by particles that are smaller 10 micrometres in diameter. This fine particle pollution can enter into our respiratory tract, affecting our lungs and heart.

Fine particle pollution often has a seasonal pattern. In the United States for example, the eastern half of the States has higher fine particle concentrations between July and September; the western half sees high concentrations between October and December. No matter where in the world you live, a quick internet search will help you identify the particle levels in your area. Takes these steps on those days.

• Avoid using your car completely
• Don’t use fireplaces or wood stoves unless you absolutely have to
• Don’t burn leaves, trash, or anything else
• Stay away from gas-powered gardening equipment

People have done a lot of damage to the environment in an incredible short span of time. Getting things back on track will take a long time, indeed it may never happen at all. But as long as we all pull our weight as individuals, the possibility of returning the earth to its natural state is still a probability.

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