May is Clean Air Month. In a time when our ozone is depleting more each day, being environmentally conscious about the air we breath is imperative. It’s not just the pollen, mold, and the dust in the air that has harmful effects. There are thousands upon thousands of chemicals and industry byproducts floating around in our atmosphere. When these chemicals linger in the atmosphere, the concentration of the substances begins to eat away at the Earth’s protective layers that shield us from the sun’s harmful environmental effects. When the chemicals and byproducts are absorbed and return to the Earth in the rainfall, our water supply is compromised as well as our flora, our fauna, our environment, and our health.
So where does all this stuff come from?
The vast majority of the Earth’s environmental air pollution comes from factories. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that emissions from US power plants are responsible for nearly 3,000 lung cancer deaths and nearly 40,000 heart attack deaths each year. This type of air pollution is called ozone (O3) or smog. Smog is a gas that is created when sunlight mixes with vapors from these plants, as well as exhaust fumes from vehicles.
The other type of dangerous air pollution is called particle pollution or soot. Soot comes from tiny particles that are released during the burning of substances such as coal and wood. The dust particles float into the air and create the illusion of fog. Particle pollution can be deadly – quickly. Just breathing in enough of the stuff in one day can be fatal. This is especially alarming when you consider that the average adult consumes 3,000 gallons of air per day.
How can I keep myself safe from air pollution?
Sadly, air pollution is everywhere. And you gotta breathe. Some areas of the country are more polluted than others so finding out where your city stands in the rankings is a good first step. Next, pay attention to weather forecasts that usually give an ozone outlook for the following day or week. By knowing which days the atmospheric conditions would be most harmful, combined with smog, you can limit your outdoor time and exposure accordingly. If you have any underlying health conditions such as asthma or emphysema, wearing a surgical mask when out of doors can also help alleviate some of the irritation caused by the pollutants.
How can I keep my Earth safe from air pollution?
Nobody can do it alone. However, everybody can make an impact by combining small efforts into a larger movement. Carpooling or finding alternate ways of producing less car emissions can help a great deal – especially if everyone participated. Another small, but effective way is making sure your gas tank lid is on tight after re-fueling your vehicle. Lastly, having regular maintenance performed on your vehicle to ensure that the emissions it produces are in a safe range is also helpful.