5 Steps you can take to fight air pollution
Air pollution causes 200,000 premature deaths in America every year. On average, the lives of those who die from air-pollution-related causes are shortened by 10 years. While some cities’ air pollution has improved in recent years, more than 40% of all Americans are still exposed to ozone or particle pollution levels that put their health at risk, according to the American Lung Association.
As summer approaches, and air pollution levels climb in many regions, it’s a good time to take stock of what you can do to help reduce pollution where you live. Here are five steps you can take, starting today, that will help improve the air you breathe and create a healthier environment for everyone.
- Monitor the air quality where you live. Learn more about pollution levels and the air quality where you live by checking your State of the Air. Then, regularly check forecasts from local air-quality monitoring agencies to be prepared, and know what to do when the air is unhealthy.
- Increase the energy efficiency of your home. Every year in the U.S., electricity-generating plants spew more than 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air – 40% of the U.S. total. Making your home more energy efficient will help reduce pollution associated with power generation. As a bonus, you will also save money by cutting your energy consumption. From large projects to small projects, such as installing solar panels and turning off lights and appliances whenever you leave a room, you can help reduce air pollution at home.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle. Unnecessary purchases and product packaging pollutes the air as it is manufactured and discarded. The environmental effects of excess consumption and excess packaging can be minimized in the following three ways:
Reduce: The best way to reduce waste is to never produce it in the first place. Consume less. One way to do this is to eliminate optional purchases and unnecessary packaging in the products you purchase. Buy products with less packaging, or consider buying products in larger quantities/sizes that reduce packaging.
Reuse: Reusing products helps eliminate the pollution generated by manufacturing new products. There are many ways to do this, such as saving paper and plastic bags; repairing broken furniture instead of buying new; selling or donating old household items instead of putting them in the trash.
Recycle: Buy products made from recycled materials whenever possible. Check with your curbside pickup service to see what they accept for recycling. Recyclable materials include plastics, metal, newspapers, glass and more.
- Re-examine your personal transportation. The average passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year. One important step you can take is to drive less. Consider using public transportation or a bicycle. Also, when shopping for a new car, choose the most fuel-efficient model that meets your needs. You can also improve fuel economy by going easy on the brake and gas pedals, avoiding hard accelerations and unloading unnecessary items from your car that add to the vehicle’s weight and waste fuel. It’s also important to check tires regularly for proper inflation, as underinflated tires reduce fuel economy.
- Improve your Indoor Air Quality. When considering the impact of air pollution, it’s important to take steps to ensure the air you breathe at home is clean and healthy. Remove airborne pollutants from the air inside your home by using a high-performance air purifier. Also, never allow smoking indoors, especially if you have children.
By taking action such as the steps above to fight air pollution, you will become part of the solution to a major global health problem. You will also save money, and enjoy the many other benefits of a living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle. For more information on how to help reduce air pollution, visit www.epa.gov.