humans have been polluting the Earth like never before. There is rarely a place today that has not been subjected to pollutants in one form or another. Some pollution comes in a visible form, like pieces of plastic washed up on our beaches, or illegal dumpsites in groves nearby large cities. Or there is a hidden and dangerous pollution of the air we breathe daily. Our continuous existence depends on it, and yet, air is full of extremely toxic particles.
The issue became so serious that scientists attribute a large number of deaths to ever increasing effects of this pollution. In fact, polluted air kills each year more people than malaria or tuberculosis¹. Some cities are even shut down during certain parts of the year, because the air is so toxic that it is impossible to function. For instance, air pollution on some days in China has the same effect on human organism such as smoking 60 cigarettes per day¹! This results not only in huge public health costs but also significantly affects the economy of the country. And to imagine the severity of the problem even better, there is an animal in the remote Arctic whose body contains one of the highest level of pollutants of any organism on this planet. The animal we speak about is a polar bear who is due to the global distillation effect exposed to anthropologically created pollution even in the most remote corner on this planet.
Although increasing number of countries enforce stricter regulations to prevent further emissions of air pollutants, there is still a lot to do on an individual level. The key to have a healthier life is to adopt measures that do not pollute air as much because we all have a role to play when it comes to tackling the problem. The following list can help you get started thinking about ways to prevent air pollution in your life. What other ways can you think of to help keep the air clean and healthy?
#1 Reduce the air pollution of your automobile
When you are out for a drive, do not idle your vehicle. Drive less by combining trips, telecommuting, carpooling, carsharing, riding a bike, walking, or using public transit. Bring your lunch to work, so you do not have to drive out during the lunch break, or agree with your co-workers on going to get lunch together. Do not speed up or drive agressively because that only produces more emissions. And if possible avoid driving out during rush hours.
When you are in the market to buy a new vehicle, consider buying the most efficient, and least polluting vehicle. In general, newer models are less polluting as they are developed with the latest technologies. Be sure to keep car tuned and regularly replace air filters at recommended intervals.
#2 Save energy
When you save energy, whether it is at home, at work, or while you are traveling, you will be reducing air polluting particulates as well as carbon emissions that pollute the air. For more information on how you can save energy, check out our articles on 10 Tips on How to Improve Energy Efficiency at Home and 10 Ways to Save Energy and Money at Home.
#3 Use eco-friendly products in your home
When purchasing household products for your home and your yard, opt for the cleanest and greenest products that don’t contain any harmful polluting chemicals.
A few great tips:
- Opt for no-VOC or low-VOC paints, stains, finishes, paint strippers, and glues. Paint with a brush rather than spray.
- Instead of using chemical-filled air fresheners, use essential oils, herbs and flowers to make your home smell nice. And do not forget to regularly open windows to ventilate your house.
- Use green cleaning products instead of conventional chemical-filled products. For ideas about which products contain the cleanest ingredients, The Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guides web page is a great place to start. Or use natural cleaning methods such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.
- Use perfumes moderately or not at all. Perfumes consist of a number of synthetic chemicals that when being sprayed in the air break down into harmful compounds.
#4 Do not smoke inside your home
Cigarette smoke contains up to 70 carcinogenic substances and toxins that remain in the indoor air for a long time. Exposure to this second hand smoke can cause serious health problems to other family members. Some of the health deteriorating compounds found in smoke include lead, arsenic, ammonia and carbon monoxide. By smoking in a confined space, the level of these compounds quickly exceed safe limits without you even realizing the danger associated with inhaling them².
#5 Plant trees
Trees around your house and in your neighborhood will help reduce air pollutants. Trees have the unique ability to clean the air of gaseous pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, as well as particulate pollutants³. Except being natural air filters, trees also improve our mood and cool down the temperature by a few degrees, which makes them a great substitute for energy demanding and polluting air conditioners.
#6 Keep air-cleaning houseplants
Similarly like trees, some plants have the ability to remove pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde from the indoor air. Examples of recommended houseplants to help keep your home’s air clean can be found here.
#7 Take a good care of your fireplace
If you own a wood burning stove or a fireplace, be sure to keep it well-maintained. Old wood stoves can be replaced with newer models that are more efficient. It is also important to burn the right wood in the right way to prevent the generation of unnecessary air pollution.
#8 Recycle and buy recycled products
It takes more energy and natural resources to make new things, increasing the environmental footprint (including the air pollution that is produced) of those products, compared with those products that are made from recycled materials.
#9 Choose sustainable products
Support companies that are committed to sustainable manufacturing practices and reducing pollution in the air.
#10 Become interested in local matters
Support public policies and representative politicians who will work to protect the air and the environment.
These are just a few ways how each one of us can help prevent further air pollution. Try to keep these tips in mind and change your habits to more sustainable ones where possible. It will improve your and your family health, and at the same time will enable all other inhabitants of this beautifully diverse planet to thrive. Become a person who respects life rather than the one who destroys it.