7 Ways to Reduce Air Pollution

Every day we breathe around 11,000 litres of air. So, it’s not surprising that the quality of air we breathe can impact our health and well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, an increase in worldwide air pollution, caused by gases, chemicals, smog and climate change, is seriously impacting health risks and outcomes.

Air pollution is linked to many respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. In more serious cases, it can potentially result in deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease.

Experts predict that things may only get worse. An OECD report estimated that outdoor air pollution will cause six to nine million premature deaths every year by 2060, up from 3 million in 2010.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can breathe easier knowing that there are ways you can reduce air pollution for both yourself and others.

Simple changes, such as investing in an air purifier, for example, can dramatically improve indoor air quality.

Filtering those nasties from the air in your home can boost your well-being. A reduction in dust, pollen, smoke particles and mould, to name a few, is a breath of fresh air to all.

Here are some other ways you can help yourself and others.

Ride a bike

According to the Climate Council, cars are responsible for roughly half of Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution. This equates to roughly the same as Queensland’s total annual coal and gas-fired electricity supply.

Car manufacturing, painting and maintenance also contribute to air pollution.

So, riding a bike is a great way to cut back on pollution. Not only does it not use fuel but there’s no need for motor oil or batteries. Getting fit is a bonus.

Improve indoor air quality

Research shows that Australians now spend 90 per cent of their time indoors, exposing themselves to air up to five times more polluted than outside.

However, a few simple changes can help.

Replacing carpets with bare floors can reduce pollutants, good ventilation improves air quality and regular cleaning helps reduce dust and mould.

An air purifier is an effective way to remove harmful particles from the air. Air purifiers with a HEPA filter capture 99.97 per cent of particles, including allergens, many bacteria and some viruses. An air purifier also can filter pet hair and dander.

Similarly, choosing furniture and paints with low levels of VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) reduces emissions, as does regular servicing of gas heaters and cookers. A strong cooker extractor fan should also be installed.

Compost and recycle

Landfills are the ideal breeding ground for contaminants and toxins and generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting food is a good way to help reduce this, as is recycling.

According to Victorian statistics, annual recycling has significant benefits for air quality.

Water savings equate to 11,000 megaliters, greenhouse gases are reduced by 386,000 tons, and the mining of resources is reduced significantly.

Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. Recycling one ton of paper saves three cubic meters of landfill space and recycling one plastic drink bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.

Invest in solar power

Solar power helps reduce air pollution significantly. Using the sun, rather than electricity, as a power source produces no harmful emissions. Not only that, but solar power is free, sustainable and effective.

Similarly, solar power lowers the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the grid on your behalf. In fact, according to Solar Market, the average solar system in Australia will prevent between 1.75 and 2.05 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere per year.

Create community green spaces

Community green spaces are an innovative way to help reduce air pollution. Engaging with local councils or community groups to assist can also provide education about the benefits.

Trees, shrubs and turf help to remove pollutants such as smoke and dust from the air. Research shows that one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, equaling 11,000 miles of car emissions.

Similar research found that one acre of trees can remove 13 tons of particles and gases annually and 2,500 square feet of turf absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Buy Local

Buying local produce is a great way to contribute to improving air quality. Shopping locally means that, not only are you supporting local communities, but also cutting down on your food miles.

A lot of food items are transported thousands of miles by plane or truck to get to stores. The fuel consumption and emissions of this are significant. Refrigeration and packing of such items also contribute to air pollution.

Conserve energy

Turning off electricals such as lights, computers and appliances when you’re not using them will decrease power plant emissions, as will energy-efficient products and appliances.

Appliances can make up to 30 per cent of home energy use, so choosing energy-efficient products not only helps save the environment but also your money.

Energy efficient appliances will display an energy star label that guarantees they will consume less energy than non-energy efficient models. The more stars the label has, the more energy-efficient the appliance is.

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