Saving the ozone layer and improving our air quality by reducing our carbon footprint is a pivotal part of our continued existence on this planet.
Currently, according to the American Lung Association (ALA), about 127 million people live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Air pollution
comes in many forms. Some, like smog, is visible and some types are not, such as the deadly carbon monoxide, but all varieties are caused by some kind of
chemical, biological, or physical compound. Air pollution can be quantified by either air pollutant concentrations or the level of air pollutant emissions,
which affect the air quality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the main pollutants that affect public health include carbon monoxide, ozone,
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide which usually lead to very severe respiratory problems.
The poor air quality that we experience in major cities
has led to various health issues, and according to the American Lung Association, the air quality is at dangerous levels in many major cities across the
country including Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The main type of pollution that affects people’s health is smog, also known as ozone, and particle
pollution or soot. When you inhale smog, it irritates the lungs and causes something similar to sunburn inside the lungs. It also puts people who suffer
from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma at higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, and can be fatal. As far as the environment is concerned, there
are some natural pollutants that can come from forest fires and wind-blown dust, which also aggravate humans and animals. Pollutants also have a negative
impact on plant life and the environment in terms of contributing to global warming.
Since the 1970’s when congress passed the Clean Air Act, air
quality has improved by about 30% nationwide, but more recently, thanks to the spotlight being placed on this environmental concern, and due to efforts by
various organizations and governmental facets, like the American Lung Association, air quality has improved drastically. In the State of Air 2012 report by
the ALA, the years between 2008 and 2010 saw the biggest improvement. The Clean Air Act was strengthened in 1990 to provide extra assistance in the monitoring
and prevention of air pollution. Other innovative technologies that are being implemented in many countries around the world in order to improve air quality
and reduce pollutants include “green” or “eco-friendly” electric cars, the use of bio-fuel as opposed to oil, and to use smog checking programs for ordinary
cars, purchase low VOC (volatile organic compound) household products, saving energy (switching off lights and conserving electricity), and reducing everyday
waste. Most importantly, everyone should do their bit, and be part of the solution to save our health and our planet.