In this blog post, we will discuss “How can we reduce the harmful effects of air pollution?” First, we will discuss the basics of air pollution. Then we will see how we can effectively help our mother earth from the clutches of air pollution.
How can we reduce the harmful effects of air pollution?
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.
The impacts of air pollution on Earth are as follows:
- Depletion of Ozone Layer
- Degrading Human Health
- Global Warming
- Climate Change
- Loss of Biodiversity
Let’s see how you, me and all of us can clean the air and make this planet a happy place.
In What ways can we reduce the harmful effects of air pollution?
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.
Many roads and bridge crossings are 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, it would be best to accelerate gradually while driving your car. 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% 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.
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.
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.
Educate youth by telling them the ill effects of poor air quality. You can also join Environmental Groups that genuinely fight for our mother earth. Let your country’s future know that they deserve a better place to live!
Indoor Plants 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:
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.
Kitchen Garden to rescue
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.
Use Clean 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. In addition, you can opt for using natural gases instead of coal and wood.
Reduction of Household Pollution
Household air pollution also contributes to ambient air pollution. This can also harm our Earth. The kitchen smoke depends on what kind of kitchen oils you use. Cooking oils at lower temperatures or low smoke points will create pollution in the kitchen, and you will experience the smell of burnt oil. For instance, extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point. The cooking oils having comparatively high smoking points are as follows:
If you only like olive oil, try switching to light olive oil, which is refined. According to the North American Olive Oil Association, light olive oil has a smoke point between 390 F and 470 F.
Artificial fragrances contain VOCs and phthalates. These toxic elements can cause harm to the earth by contributing to the ozone depletion process. Thus we can use Earth-friendly products to create good fragrances. To reduce the foul odour of the house, some beneficial oils like tea tree oil have antibacterial properties. This oil can be used to reduce airborne bacteria. You just require good quality electric diffuser to lessen the filthy pollutants. I will give you a list of some of the essential oils below:
The commercial candles contain paraffin wax which releases toluene and benzene, carcinogenic. In addition, the wicks of these candles have lead. You can replace these candles with natural beeswax candles, reducing indoor air pollution. Don’t use any dry-dusting surface cleaners and agents containing toxic materials. Researchers say that these poisonous chemicals attract dust. Instead, you can use safer products such as baking soda instead of harsh chemicals to clean the surfaces.
Use Earth Friendly Products
You can prefer choosing more hair-friendly products such as water-based products or having a low presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You clean the windows with eco-friendly cleaning agents. You can also paint your home walls with a brush rather than a sprayer.
Computers and televisions are a favourite place for the dust to settle. When moved by air, this dust pollution contributes to ambient air pollution and can cause harm to the environment. You can use dryer softener sheets to reduce static cling and avoid dust. If you don’t have dryer softener sheets, I have another solution. You can use a liquid fabric softener. First, you need to dampen a dust cloth with a fabric softener. Then, you can clean wooden surfaces and shower doors too.
Baby wipes can effectively clean the dust around the house. Baby wipes are antibacterial and disinfectant. Some brands of baby wipes can remove dust even after being laundered.
Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. I strongly recommend of stop smoking indoors and outdoors too. 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. Moreover, smoke associated with tobacco and other smoking goods produces innumerable cancer-causing substances which are not suitable for human health of all ages- right from womb to older adults.
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 buy 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. You can also layer yourself with clothes to protect yourself from winters rather than using external heating sources. 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. Minimize the dry-clean services as this service can produce multiple VOCs in the air, contributing to global warming.
Avoid excessive printing of any documents. If you are going to print any stuff, it would be safe to print on both sides. In addition, you can also reuse papers for printing. Moreover, use papers responsibly. Utilize all sides of the paper. You can opt for working remotely or insist on adapting a hybrid type of working to reduce carbon footprints and save fuel.
Try to find out the electric or water leakages in your home. Seal the leakages from trained workers to save energy and our nature. Encourage shopping stuff that uses minimum packaging products. In addition, try reusing these packaging materials. Discourage plastic use.
Pollution created by batteries has created a menace on Earth. Thousands of batteries are purchased and disposed of in the garbage every year. Thus, buy rechargeable batteries that can save your money and Earth.
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.
Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.
In this blog post, we discussed “How can we reduce the harmful effects of air pollution?” First, we discussed the basics of air pollution. Then we saw how we could effectively help our mother earth from the clutches of air pollution.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How can we reduce the harmful effects of air pollution?
How can we help the Earth from pollution?
We can help the Earth from pollution by behaving responsibly towards our actions. Here are some of the tips:
- Reduce, reuse and recycle
- Create awareness and organize cleanups in your community
- Educate about pollution in your community
- Save water
- Plant Trees
- Live sustainably
How can we protect our Mother Earth?
We can protect our Mother Earth by following factors:
- Use Public Transport
- Create Awareness
- Save Trees and Plant More
- Reduce Reuse and Recycle
- Sustainable Lifestyle
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.
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/