Read these 10 Air Pollution Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Air Quality tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you are concerned about air pollution, there is an excellent resource available to help match you to an agency that could use help from interested people like yourself.
Volunteer Match is an organization dedicated to pairing people up with the appropriate agencies. Visit www.volunteermatch.org to learn how you can be partnered up with a group in your area. Simply type in your zip code and choose the appropriate concern from the toolbar (you'll want the "environment" section) and you're off and running. An excellent example--those who live near Chicago should check into the Chicago Bicycle federation. This group is dedicated to many things related to bike travel, and are obviously contributing to air quality by encouraging people to use the zero-emissions bicycle as a preferred mode of travel.
Indoor air pollution can come from a number of hidden sources. One deadly form comes from mixing cleaning compounds such as ammonia and bleach. This creates toxic gas that can kill. "Bug bombs" can also be a nasty source indoor air pollution, as they can leave traces of poisons, which can be stirred up by sweeping, vacuuming, and other household activity.
Hanging drywall, grinding, sanding, or paint scraping will leave dust and residue that must be dealt with. Otherwise it, too, can be stirred up and inhaled with ordinary activity in the home. Indoor air pollution isn't always as obvious as it sounds. Sometimes it lies in the corner, waiting to be stirred up and kicked into the otherwise healthy air.
It's easy to assume that particulate matter--air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other materials--can cause damage to the lungs. But the real danger when it comes to this kind of air pollution is particle size. The smaller the particles, the greater the damage to the respiratory system.
A culprit in these damaging particles? Diesel engines such as the ones found on large trucks and on public transportation. The air pollution problems caused by diesel are due to incomplete combustion, and while advances in some engines is reducing emissions, there are far too many ordinary diesel engines on the road, spewing health damaging particles.
If you live near a highway, filling station, or other concentration of diesel exhaust, you should consider an air filtration system in your home.
Particles from exhaust fumes, forest fires, and other kinds of combustion, along with noxious gases including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and chemical vapors, make up the particles that pollute our air.
The results of air pollution can be devastating. In 1952 London, thousands of people died because of smog concentrations far above normal. It was four years later that a "Clean Air Act" was passed to help prevent such a disaster from happening again.
Your concerns about air pollution, and air pollution causes are far from extreme. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air. Freedom from indoor air pollution is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Consider this situation: In Chicago, a man complains of constant respiratory trouble. His condition improves when he moves out of the apartment he had been renting next door to an automotive painting facility.
In another example: In Texas, one stretch of highway under construction raised dust, exhaust, and other air pollution to the point where the city skyline could not be seen clearly until leaving that stretch of road.
Depending on where you live, your experiences with air pollution causes may be more intense than others. If you are contemplating a move to a less polluted location, consider a few factors in choosing a new home:
1. Proximity to military bases, factories, and farms.
2. Location near high-traffic areas, or stretches of road which become congested during peak travel times.
3. Location of landfills, recycling centers or garbage dumps.
All of these areas can be sources of pollutants. If you are determined to find a lung-friendly place to live, ask your potential neighbors and local community groups about their feelings on the location. You may still need to operate air purification equipment and be mindful of indoor air pollution, but choosing a better location is an excellent start towards improving the quality of your life with regards to healthy air.
Some locales across the country have initiated "tall chimney" acts in an effort to help clean the environment in your area. These acts are passed by state or federal governments with the basic notion is that a taller chimney will prevent buildup of noxious fumes or smoke over the urban area. It's been determined, however, that it takes more than a tall chimney to reduce air pollution.
If you want to get involved in fighting anti-air pollution and protecting the environment, educate yourself first on the common causes and resolutions of air pollution. A simple Internet search will yield thousands of results that offer statistics and research on air pollution campaigns and awareness programs. If you want to get involved with your state and/or local government, search for grassroots organizations in your area and find ways to get involved.
Some cities across nation including Chicago, St. Louis, and Little Rock, have instituted Ozone Action Days, whereby citizens, businesses, government municipalities, and health and environmental organizations are asked to take part in reducing ozone forming emission. Here are some tips for helping during this day:
1. During ozone action days citizens are asked to reduce emissions and limit their exposure to ozone if allergy or pollutant sensitive. Take special care during these times and operate your air cleaning system at an increased rate, if possible.
2. Avoid filling gas tanks, burning wood stoves, mowing lawns and other activities that not only increase the air pollution level, but also will aggravate any irritation to you lungs on such days.
Ozone action days won't end the causes of pollution, but they do raise the awareness level with the public. If you live in an area with frequent Ozone Action days, consider writing to your elected officials to let them know you support additional clean air initiatives and that you want additional local air pollution information shared with the public.
Sick building syndrome has been on the rise ever since the energy crisis of the 1970s, according to some sources. Buildings made to be more energy efficient are also very good at trapping air pollution inside. There are a few symptoms of sick building syndrome to be aware of:
1. Eye and nose irritation
2. Respiratory irritation
3. Increased cancer rates
If you think you're suffering from sick building syndrome, talk to your doctor about ways to feel better while at the office. Also check with your building management and employer about possible anti-air pollution efforts that can be made to the office area.
Did you know that many municipal governments have reporting procedures in place designed to help citizens identify violators of environmental laws? If you see what appears to be illegal air pollution, contact your city's Department of Environmental Management or similar authority and report as many details of the incident as you can.
Illegal air pollution can include burning tires and setting forest fires. Did you know that in some areas, a company must obtain a permit to burn tires? The air pollution from such activity can be devastating, and can lead to being one of the leading air pollution causes in your area. It is very important to understand what the laws of your state regarding air pollution say with regards to tire burning and related activities. You may be able to improve the air quality in your area simply by reporting illegal activities.
One of the most enlightening things an ordinary citizen can experience is a college course on Environmental Biology. In such a class, you will learn a great deal about global warming, air pollution, how permits are traded which allows greenhouse gasses to be legally generated by new companies, and much more. You will also learn a great deal on how to reduce your own output of air pollution through energy conservation, tree planting, proper recycling and disposal of waste, plus much more. A college course of this nature could be the start of a lifelong concern over air pollution if you have the time to invest for a little education.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|