This blog post will discuss ” How can we improve air quality?” Firstly, we will address the basics of air pollution. Then, we will emphasize the solutions to improve air quality. In the end, the article will provide the details to protect yourself from air pollution.
How can we improve air quality?
Air pollution can cause detrimental side effects to the humans and rest of the world. It can cause crop productivity loss, degrade human health, and loss of biodiversity. Air pollution also drives climate change. There are two causes of air pollution:
- Natural Air Pollution
- Anthropogenic Air Pollution
Natural Air Pollution is caused by natural phenomena such as dust storms, wildfires and volcanic eruptions. On the other hand, anthropogenic air pollution is nothing but air pollution caused by human activities.
Since the stone age, humankind has always strived hard to achieve stability and comfort in their life. Finally, we succeeded, which led to the industrial revolution, followed by urbanization and much-needed changes in the lifestyle.
However, in the process of progression, somewhere we left behind the great values of nature, we forgot the support and symbiotic existence of the environment. While human inventions, no doubt, have always helped us to save our lives, it has also given birth to much inevitable stuff. One such thing is air pollution.
The introduction of harmful contaminants in gases, liquid droplets and solid particles into the atmosphere is air pollution. These toxic agents are known as airborne pollutants. Examples of air pollutants are sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, etc. These can be chemical or biological.
Humans have tremendously exploited natural resources such as fossil fuels in the constant chase of becoming the best in every term and during the development of energy and manufacturing sectors. In general, urban air pollution is not only influenced by anthropogenic or man-made activities but also by natural events. In addition, the air quality in the urban areas can alter due to neighbouring regions.
Let’s see how you, me and all of us can clean the air and make this planet a happy place.
Solutions to improve air quality
Sustainable Transportation plans
Effective Road Infrastructure
The local authorities should maintain the health of the roads. For example, a road full of pits and uneven surfaces can create particulate pollution when the vehicles pass over it. Additionally, the ruling government can propose the idea of low emission zones (Low Emission Zones) in cities with high air pollution levels due to mobile sources such as cars and trucks.
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are the regions where the most polluting vehicles are regulated. The meaning of this zone is that vehicles possessing higher emissions are restricted to enter the area. In some LEZs, the vehicles producing more air pollution have to pay hefty penalties.
There are many roads and bridge crossings constructed globally by cutting numerous trees and disturbing wildlife. Deforestation contributes to air pollution. However, the wittiest technique is evolved to protect the wildlife without affecting transportation. There are one such largest bridges which are in California. Such projects help reduce air pollution by maintaining foliage and animal lives.
The local authorities can also develop vertical gardening on the piers of flyovers and bridges. Vertical gardening is a method where plants are grown on a vertical structure. Such gardens can help the structures from air pollution; these gardens act as an insulation wall. These plants absorb the toxins emitted from the vehicles.
You can increase the use of public transport to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. You can also try carpooling or the cab sharing option. The US EPA has observed that transportation accounts for about 29% of greenhouse gas emissions. It would be preferable to travel in trains rather than aeroplanes as trains produce comparatively fewer greenhouse gases than aeroplanes.
However, if you still prefer a private vehicle, I still have options for you. Then, you can also use bicycles instead of scooters. Lastly, you can always opt for walking a shorter distance. You can also avoid traffic congestion and reduce air pollution by shopping online. There are various shopping portals like Amazon, which can deliver any desired stuff in your footsteps. If you want to go outside for shopping, make sure you list the items you wish to purchase to avoid frequent trips to the shop. Try to squeeze your essential work into one trip, such as grocery shopping.
Nowadays, remote working or hybrid work style is becoming very popular, especially post-pandemic. If your job profile and occupation permit, then you can opt for remote working as you will save the cost of fuel and you will be able to reduce air pollution. Besides, you can work in your comfort at home.
If you are using an old vehicle, ensure you have installed catalytic converters. Catalytic converters help to convert harmful toxins like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides and hydrocarbons emitted from engine’s emissions into safe gases, for instance, steam. Such simple installation can reduce the threat of smog conditions. It would be perfect if you frequently check the car’s air filters. If it is not in a good state, you can replace it.
Additionally, there are many tricks to prevent high levels of pollution. For example, while driving your car, it would be best to accelerate gradually. This is because a smooth start uses less amount of fuel. Moreover, try using cruise control on the highway. Many studies show that the cruise control system promotes 5 to 15% of fuel-saving. You can also consider turning off your car’s engine if you are idle for a more extended period.
Besides, if you purchase a new vehicle, go for an electric one. Electric vehicles ensure that you don’t require any gas to run them; it has a battery recharged. It is low in maintenance, and most importantly, it promotes net-zero carbon emissions. If you want to travel a short distance, you can use a bike instead of mopeds. And best of all, you can always walk to your preferred short-distanced destinations.
Be a protector of the mother nature
Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking directly exposes harmful pollutants to your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. Besides, cigarette butts can trigger particulate pollution. This can happen, so if it gets in contact with the forests, it can cause forest fires. Thus, forest fires can emit organic carbon and other particulates.
Air pollution is unpredictable; air pollution in your vicinity can affect people living in Asia and vice-a-versa. However, you can create public awareness about air pollution amongst your community by teaching and interacting with your kids about the importance of good air.
Educate youth by telling them the ill effects of poor air quality. Then, let your country’s future know that they deserve a better place to live!
Keep a tab on personal carbon footprints
You can also keep a check on your carbon footprints. For example, you can delete unwanted photos, videos or emails from clouds and email boxes as and when possible. Unfortunately, this unwanted stuff takes a lot of energy, indirectly contributing to air pollution.
You can also switch off the lights and electrical appliances of the vacant rooms. You can try using fluorescent lights instead of incandescent lights. These incandescent lights consume more energy and indirectly contributes to air pollution.
If you are buying any electrical appliances, make sure that you check their electricity consumption levels. In this case, I always prefer energy-saving electrical appliances. You can also like using a thermostat that can automatically turn off the air conditioners and heaters if you don’t need them.
As air conditioners use more electricity, you can choose a fan for the cooling effect. Whenever the weather permits, try drying your clothes in your backyard. In this way, you can save electricity consumption by the dryer machine. Also, heat small meals in a microwave oven. Finally, try to turn off taps while brushing your teeth.
Avoid excessive printing documents. If you are going to print any stuff, it would be safe to print on both sides; you can also reuse papers for printing.
Try buying local products instead of imported ones. Be vocal about them. You can also discover your own country rather than travelling to different ones.
Be Sustainable Trendy
Single-use plastic has been one of the major concerns in the environment. Plastic pollution indirectly contributes to the degradation of air quality. Plastic, when burned, releases various toxic gases such as dioxins into the air. Reuse paper bags which you got while shopping in the past.
Encourage alternative use of plastic products. For example, you can wear a cloth bag for shopping. You can also carry your travel cutlery set to a restaurant. Additionally, you can take your water bottle instead of purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle every time.
Nowadays, many couples celebrate gender (of their baby) revealing parties by bursting firecrackers. But, unfortunately, these firecrackers can transform into massive wildfires if they are burst near trees.
Thus, you can celebrate such celebrations by planting trees in your nearby barren land. Bursting firecrackers on any religious, festive or personal occasion are only going to harm your loved ones.
You can also celebrate Christmas by not cutting Christmas Trees. Instead, you can buy artificial ones and use them in the coming years. You can also recycle wrappers and packaging while packing the gifts.
You can always observe the changes happening in your surrounding nature. If you experience bad air quality or any activities producing air pollution, you can always concern relevant local authorities or the mayor. For example, you can raise a voice if someone has littered a campsite and kept a bonfire unattended. You can also suggest to your municipal council if harmful fertilizers or pesticides are kept for commercial sale in your nearest shops. Be brave enough for your planet to oppose any wrongdoings which will harm the earth.
Alternative use of fossil fuel
It would be best to try switching to other fuel alternatives. For example, don’t use wood for the fireplace. Instead, you can wear multiple layers of clothes for warmth. In this way, you can conserve energy. You can also install solar panels on house roofs to convert solar energy into electricity.
Home Sweet Home
A clean house gives you clean air
There’s a simple yet powerful saying- ‘cleanliness starts at home.’ Reducing indoor air pollution, the ones created due to indoor activities can significantly improve ambient air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.8 million deaths happen every year due to household exposure to smoke from improper cookstoves and fuels. In addition, indoor air pollution is produced due to the combustion of fossil fuels.
You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. In addition, I would strongly recommend carpeting a minimum floor area.
You can use safer products such as baking soda instead of harsh chemicals to clean the surfaces. You can prefer choosing more hair-friendly products to clean indoors. You can select water-based products or have a low presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You can also paint your home walls with a brush rather than a sprayer. In addition, you can store solvents in air-tight containers so that VOCs don’t escape in the air. For lawn mowing, you can use push or electric lawnmowers.
Home accessories like carpets attract many allergens and pollens. These pollutants get stuck to the carpet and degrade indoor air quality. You can vacuum these carpets and furniture such as sofas at least twice a week. Avoid overuse of strong perfumes or strong scented candles indoors. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.
Groom your pets
It’s essential to keep your furry friends clean and happy. Regular bathing will help their skin breathe. Unfortunately, the pet fur and dander can float inside the room and settle on the carpets, clothing, furniture and other open decks. These can cause an allergic reaction and asthmatic symptoms. Besides, pet allergies can have various symptoms such as runny nose, shortness of breath and coughing.
For instance, give your doggies a nice bath with hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner. These products can keep them safe from indoor air pollution and help keep the room clean of pet fur and dander. Pollens and allergens might get stuck in their hair and further absorbed by the skin. This can result in various infections and can prevent air pollution too. Keep them well-groomed.
Ventilation is key to success!
Besides, always make sure that you are keeping your house well ventilated. It would be best if you keep the doors of your balconies and windows open whenever the weather permits. In addition, I would strongly recommend you to use ventilators in the bathrooms and toilets to remove foul odour and accumulation of viruses and bacteria, if any. While cooking, make sure you keep the exhaust fans and chimneys on to eliminate any smoke produced while cooking.
If the weather is not allowing for natural air to pass through your home, you need to use air purifiers. Air purifiers help to maintain a healthy atmosphere in the house. It is okay with air purifiers to invest in good humidifiers and dehumidifiers. They allow you to balance the humidity levels indoors. You must be wondering which to buy. Don’t worry; I am providing its detail in the coming solutions.
Keep a tab on appliances health
If you are using all these appliances and chimneys and exhaust fans, it is necessary to maintain them properly. The dust and dirt can get accumulated and clogged in these machines. This can reduce their efficiency. Thus, it is essential to clean the filters and ducts of these appliances at regular intervals to reduce indoor air pollution.
Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.
Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier||● 99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured.|
|AIRMEGA 400S||● Reduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns.● Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.● Washable and permanent pre-filters are available|
|Blueair Pure 121||● Includes 3-part filtration system.● Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.● An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.|
The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.
Humidifiers I recommend
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier||● 4 litre of tank capacity● Auto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settings● It can be used in both seasons|
|MOVTIP Humidifier||● Portable Mini-humidifier● 500 ml capacity, still produces longer mists● Easy to operate|
|LEVOIT Humidifier||● It can be used for both seasons● 6 litres of capacity● Easy to clean and has a remote control|
Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.
Dehumidifiers I recommend
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|Pro Breeze Dehumidifier||● Can extract 50 pints of moisture a day● Energy-saving auto-off system● Built-in Humidity sensor|
|HOmeLabs Dehumidifier||● Eliminates moistness, odour controller● Easy to clean● Removable water tank|
|TCL Portable Dehumidifier||● 20 pints of moisture removed per day● It can be operated at low temperatures too● Easy to maintain|
Air ionizers are machines that eliminate airborne pollutants using negative ions. The main job of this machine is to help the particles settle and then gather out of the air. Unfortunately, the negative ions released from the ionizers attach to microscopic particles such as tobacco smoke. This results in electrically charged particles clumping together on the surfaces like walls, ceilings, carpets, rugs, etc. However, once they are landed, they need to be cleaned up.
The ozone produced from ionizers can deactivate viruses in the air and surfaces. However, ozone can irritate and cause throat irritation, lung inflammation, and asthma. So, I suggest using this device only when you feel it is needed.
Indoor Plants are your best friends
Indoor Plants, as said earlier, helps to purify indoor air quality. Firstly, due to the photosynthesis process, they inhale all carbon dioxide and, in return, supply fresh oxygen indoors. Many scientists have observed that these plants remove toxins too. In addition, these plants can absorb all cancer-causing volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.
The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows:
So are the trees in your backyards
Encourage tree plantation drives amongst the communities. You can be a green saviour of your region. Trees are the natural air purifiers of the environment, and it supplies us with clean air. Municipal councils or the local authorities can develop urban forests to increase the green cover of the locality. They can also plan to create vertical green walls to improve oxygen levels of the region naturally. But don’t forget to plant only indigenous trees. Also, don’t forget to shower love to the oldest of oldest trees in your nearby park.
Maintain your cute kitchen farm
You must wonder if creating your kitchen farm can help reduce air pollution. Instead of soil, you can use kitchen wastes as a base to germinate microgreens such as dill, arugula seeds and cilantro seeds. You can compost kitchen waste in the compost bin to turn waste into fertilizers. Composting your kitchen let-over will reduce the amount of waste that will contribute to the landfills. Less amount of waste generated can improve the air quality.
These are tips to clean the air around you. You can be a part of the solution and not of problems.
What can I do to protect myself from air pollution?
I will elaborate on some of the measures to protect yourself from air pollution.
You can also fight the effects of air pollution by maintaining personal hygiene:
- You can cut your nails short to avoid the accumulation of dirt.
- You can also practice mouth gargling after coming home to free your mouth from unwanted guests.
- You can also brush twice a day to keep airborne infections at bay.
- You can also take steam therapy at home to cleanse your lungs.
Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking provides the direct entry of harmful pollutants into your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it.
Physical activities have many benefits to your body. It not only improves your stamina and immunity levels but also helps to increase your lung capacity. Yoga, sanas, swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking and dancing are some of the best forms of exercise to improve your health.
The majority of people in the world don’t breathe properly. However, correct breathing techniques can keep illnesses due to air pollution at bay. A pranayama is a form of yoga asana which helps to improve breathing methods and lung functionality.
Some of the pranayama types that help you fight air pollution are Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Chandra Nadi, Surya Nadi and Bhastrika. It is strongly recommended to learn this art of breath from a well-certified yoga trainer.
You can also increase your lung muscles by simply taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 10. Then, slowly breathe out the air. If you can keep your breath for a longer time, then you have good lungs health.
Always go for a well-balanced diet to remain fit and strong. Consistent eating of junk and fast food will increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. In addition, such people are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution. Instead, add more fresh veggies and fruits to your diet. Also, you can consume less meat to minimise carbon footprints.
You can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help to cleanse your lungs effectively. Anti-inflammatory foods which I recommend are:
Immunity booster drinks
You can do your immunity booster drinks by using readily available items in your kitchen. Immunity booster drinks help to cleanse your lungs. Some of the DIY immunity booster drinks are as follows:
- Take a glass of warm white milk. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Also, add two strands of saffron to it. Drink it at night before sleeping. You will get good sleep, and you will be relieved from chest congestion.
- Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. Your sinuses would be cleared up.
- Buy an excellent green tea. Prepare a green tea by following the packet instructions. Have it whenever you feel irritation in your throat.
- Take some crushed 1 or 2 peppercorns, a half-inch of a blade of lemongrass and 1 inch of grated ginger and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add everything in one glass of boiling water and reduce it to half a glass. Drink two tablespoons of this spice-infused warm water every after three hours. Adding honey is optional.
- You can also drink warm water and add honey if you want. Honey helps to relieve throat irritation.
Mask can prevent you from inhaling the polluted air. You would be able to work in contaminated areas without any fear of allergy infections and stress.
Masks I recommend
|Name||Why I recommend it|
|BASE CAMP CROSSDUST MASK||EAPI Filter Technology & Advanced NanotechnologyUser FriendlyMore Durable Six layers face maskFilter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown with Electrostatic Adsorption Performance, Activated carbon, Non-woven Polypropylene|
|NIOSH approved N95 mask||Four layers mask Flexible nose pad, dual strapsDisposable maskEasy to breathe|
|BASE CAMP Reusable Cloth Face Mask||Three layers mask; 100% cotton Skin-friendly and breathablePocket to add additional filterReusable Mask|
Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.
This blog post discussed “How can we improve air quality?” Firstly, we addressed the basics of air pollution. Then, we emphasized the solutions to improve air quality. In the end, the article provided the details to protect yourself from air pollution.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How can we improve air quality?
How does the air get polluted?
Air pollution can occur in multiple ways. Human activities such as the transportation sector, industrial processes, and combustion of fossil fuels generate particulates and other toxic gases such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides. Natural events also create air pollution. Some of the instances are volcanic eruptions and dust storms.
What are the causes of air pollution?
The causes of air pollution are as follows:
- The burning of fossil fuels
- Indoor Air pollution
- Vehicular pollution
- Construction and demolition activities
Which produces the most pollution?
The burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation is the most produced pollution. These activities are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. GHG emissions from the transportation sector come from cars, trucks, ships, trains and aeroplanes.
Which country is carbon negative?
Bhutan country is the only country in the world to become carbon negative.
Which country has the highest and least emissions?
China has the highest emissions; they are the most significant contributor of CO2 emissions. In contrast, Tuvalu country has the lowest carbon footprint in the world. They continue to be in such a state by avoiding fossil fuels.
Who leads the world in air pollution?
China leads the world in air pollution. The United States and India follow this.
50 ways to clean the air – riverside, California. Available at: https://www.riversideca.gov/air/pdf/50-ways.pdf
Canada.ca. 2021. Air pollution: effects on soil and water – Canada.ca. [online] Available at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-pollution/quality-environment-economy/ecosystem/effects-soil-water.html
Mackenzie, J. and Turrentine, J., 2021. Air Pollution: Everything You Need to Know. [online] NRDC. Available at https://www.nrdc.org/stories/air-pollution-everything-you-need-know
National Geographic Society. 2021. air pollution. [online] Available at https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/air-pollution/
Shi, Z., 2014. Why air pollution reduces crop yields. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/11/air-pollution-reduces-crop-yields/
TheCivilEngineer.org, Bridge crossings that Protect Wildlife. Bridge crossings that protect wildlife – TheCivilEngineer.org. Available at: https://www.thecivilengineer.org/news-center/latest-news/item/2413-bridge-crossings-that-protect-wildlife
Unece.org. 2021. Air pollution and food production | UNECE. [online] Available at https://unece.org/air-pollution-and-food-production