How to Battle the Air Pollution Crisis | Mar 31, 2016

Air pollution and climate change are two of the largest public health issues that currently face this country. Health complications related to air pollution kill more people than AIDS and malaria combined. Clearly, significant changes need to be implemented to have a strong impact on reducing air pollution rates.

While the U.S. has already made efforts through the Clean Air Act, more needs to be done. Even though carbon monoxide rates have lowered in the U.S., the country still pumps out approximately 60 million short tons of this gas each year. Other countries are even worse. If public health officials work together, they might be able to make strides toward lowering these rates. But what are the steps they can take?

Raising awareness

One of the main issues related to air pollution is that many people don’t know about it in their area. They might know about the health consequences, as well as the effect on the environment and global warming, but the public generally is unaware of the levels of air pollution in the city or town that they live. The U.S. took strides with the Clean Air Act, which continually monitors the levels of air pollution, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen monoxide, ground-level ozone and sulfur dioxide levels.

However, several other countries don’t monitor these levels, so citizens might not be aware of how much pollution is going into their air each day. Of course, some countries are more high risk than others. Countries with high population densities in small areas are particularly at risk of considerable air pollution, as well as places with significant industrial activity.

One way public health officials can fight air pollution is by creating policies worldwide that help create awareness of pollution contribution. Once citizens are aware of how much they are contributing to the world’s pollution, greater preventative measures can be taken to lower these numbers and hopefully reduce air pollution as a whole. People within a city or region should study different industries that have an effect on air pollution levels, including transportation, development, industrial efforts and energy. Step by step, executives and public representatives should create approaches to reduce air pollution in each sector.

Discover trends

Another way public health officials can fight to reduce air pollution is by looking for trends. Every country is different – some countries might have more air pollution from transportation, others might have air pollution from their industrial district. That’s why monitoring is such an effective measure for reducing carbon emissions, as people can quickly learn where they’re emitting the most harmful gas. Over time, people can track these measures and learn where trends lie. Once these trends are identified, it’s easier for public health officials to target this area and begin to make policies that prevent continual emissions at that rate.

Public health officials should also develop databases as they collect information on emission rates. As cities and regions begin to make steps toward reducing air pollution, it can be used as an example for other cities. For instance, many developing countries don’t have the knowledge or sources to learn about ways to prevent air pollution. However, if they had access to educational information, these disadvantaged countries might be able to learn from others and can create a similar model that will help reduce pollution rates.

Push for alternate transportation

One of the largest contributors to air pollution is transportation, especially in crowded cities. In urban areas, transportation is responsible for between 25 and 70 percent of all air pollution. Much of this is caused by individual drivers. However, public health officials need to implement policies and raise awareness about the benefits of public transportation as well as other alternate methods, such as riding bikes, walking or even taking hoverboards around urban areas. Carpooling is also a good way to reduce the carbon footprint. Discussing these preventative measures and educating citizens on the difference alternate transportation an make can help people take action.