How Air Pollution is Affecting Your Health, and What We Can Do to Help Reduce Emissions

How Air Pollution is Affecting Your Health, and What We Can Do to Help Reduce Emissions | HealthSoul

Almost half the planet is living in a state of what scientists describe as “substandard air conditions.” You don’t always notice the effects of air pollution right away. You can’t see it. Contrary to common belief, you can’t always even smell it. And yet it’s out there, jeopardizing people’s health and contributing to climate change.

It’s a serious problem, but not an insurmountable one. In this article, we take a look at how air pollution is impacting your health, and what you can do to help reduce emissions.

How Air Pollution Impacts Your Health

Most people won’t notice air pollution in minor concentrations. Experts agree that even mild amounts of contamination can be unacceptable for the very old, the very young, or people suffering from respiratory disease.

Short of this, it is easy to walk through a heavily polluted area, and not realize it. That’s because many air pollution risks happen through long-term exposure. People living in areas with low air quality experience high risks of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, air pollution is considered the number one global cause of premature death, shortening people’s lives by as much as six years on average.

While cities are notorious for their air quality, rural areas also experience major issues. It’s estimated that nine out of ten people experience at least some exposure to unsafe air conditions.

Cars, factories, and everyday household objects all create air conditions that can cause health problems down the line. While it is difficult to eliminate all sources of pollution, small personal decisions can go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint.

How to Reduce Emissions

Emissions are one of the primary sources of air pollution in modern life. Cities are particularly notorious for having low air quality not because city dwellers consume excessively—in fact, per person, they may burn fewer fossil fuels than people living in rural areas—but because there are so many sources of carbon emissions in one small environment.

In this section, we look at ways you can reduce your emissions to improve the air quality in your community.

Reduce the Usage of Your Car

Personal vehicles are one of the largest sources of fossil fuel-related emissions on the planet. Unfortunately, they are also very difficult to avoid. Most people cannot completely swear off their cars. However, there are ways you can reduce the environmental impact of your driving.

  • Invest in an electric vehicle: Electric vehicles are more affordable than ever. Most major manufacturers have car lines that rely at least partially on electricity. Unfortunately, even electric cars do take a toll on the environment—production and transportation have a high environmental cost even when it is to support eco-friendly products—but it is dramatically better than the gas-guzzling alternatives.
  • Downsize: Over half of all vehicles purchased in the United States are SUVs. Bigger cars have their place, but if you don’t strictly need one, it is better from an environmental perspective to opt for a smaller car. Compact vehicles use fewer manufacturing materials and tend to get significantly better mileage.
  • Carpool: Carpooling allows more people to get around using less gasoline. As an added bonus, it is also more economical, giving multiple people the opportunity to split the cost of fuel.
  • Public transportation. Public transportation is the ultimate form of carpooling, allowing dozens of people to get around town for the environmental price of one (admittedly very large) tank of gas.

Reducing car dependency does require making sacrifices, but it is worthwhile in the long run.

Be Mindful of What Businesses You Support

While individual contributions toward sustainability are noble and impactful, they pale in comparison to the effectiveness of actions performed by large businesses or governments. Try your best to support companies that prioritize eco-friendly business practices.

For example, HP (the printer company) has made a public commitment to reducing its carbon emissions to zero by the year 2040. This includes not only how they operate in-house, but also how they manage their supply chain.

By finding businesses that share your concern for the environment you can significantly increase the impact of your eco-friendly decisions.

Live Modestly

People get a little uncomfortable with this concept, but it’s true: overconsumption is an enormous contributor to emissions. All those factories that are pumping pollutants into the air? They are making the stuff that you buy.

If people bought less, the factories would make less. Plain and simple. And that’s not even taking into consideration the emissions created by fulfillment centers, goods transportation vehicles, delivery trucks, etc.

Even your house. The United States ranks second on the globe for the largest average house sizes. Your home requires lots of energy. HVAC. Large appliances, etc.

The more you consume, the bigger your environmental impact becomes.

Consider Renewable Energy Sources

Admittedly, most green energy alternatives are cost-prohibitive. Electric panels can set you back five figures. Wind power is even pricier and more logistically challenging.

If you can’t make a full switch to renewable energy, look for other ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home. Most modern appliances include eco-friendly features that allow them to consume less energy. IoT sensors can help you regulate your HVAC settings to reduce energy usage.

Only You Can Prevent Air Pollution

The fight for sustainability can feel like an uphill battle. Climate change is already upon us, and most experts agree that we aren’t anywhere near where we need to be to keep it in check. When you walk through a city and see all the cars and brightly lit buildings, it’s natural to doubt how much you can do to curb emissions.

Don’t get discouraged. Big journeys start with small steps, and every eco-friendly choice that you make brings us a little bit closer to a world of clean air and healthy ecosystems.