THE CLEAN AIR ACT OF 1970 HAS REQUIRED PEOPLE TO CLEAN UP THE AIR OVER THE UNITED STATES BUT MANY POLLUTANTS ARE STILL BEING RELEASED AND SOME SUBSTANCES HAVE BEEN FOUND TO BE POLLUTANTS THAT WERE NOT KNOWN TO BE POLLUTANTS IN THE PAST. THERE IS STILL MUCH WORK TO BE DONE TO CONTINUE TO CLEAN UP THE AIR.
Some countries have recognised the importance of going green and reducing their carbon footprint to combat air pollution. In the U.S., government partnerships with the EPA have been set up across different states, in accordance with the Clean Air Act initiative. When it comes to common air pollutants, the EPA is required by law to establish health-based national air quality standards, which are intended to provide protection with an “adequate margin of safety”. Each state is responsible for developing its own implementation plans to meet those standards. In California, for example, local air pollution districts work together with state authorities to draft air quality plans.
Meanwhile, there is extensive research by the U.K. Government proving that the quickest and most cost-effective strategy for cutting down pollution in urban areas – especially levels of nitrogen dioxide – is by eliminating vehicles responsible for those pollutants from the city and town centres. The government also calls for certain policies to be considered by officials in all major cities and densely populated areas, such as (1) retrofitting buses, black cabs and vehicles transporting heavy goods, (2) clearly labelling pollution levels on new cars, with drivers being trained to drive more cleanly, and (3) placing investment in wind, solar and hydropower energy for production and manufacturing.
In an effort to do your part in reducing air pollution as well as your carbon footprint, it’s best to stick to these practical tips, as mentioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
1. Minimise the amount of electricity you use at home, at work and anywhere else.
2. Opt to leave your car whenever you can travel to nearby locations by foot or by bicycle.
3. Whenever you use your car, be sure not to idle it. Turn off the engine if you’re waiting for a passenger for some time or speaking to someone on the phone.
4. Arrange for carpooling to work with colleagues who live in the same area.
5. Always follow gasoline refuelling instructions to enable efficient vapor recovery, with extra precautions taken to avoid spilling any gasoline and tighten the gas cap properly.
6. Periodically check the engines of your car, boat, motorcycle or other machines and ensure they are properly tuned.
7. If you plan to buy a new home appliance or office equipment, do refer to the Energy Star label and factor that into your decision. Ideally, you want something with a high rating, as that means it’s more environmentally friendly.
8. Use filters for chimneys. Remember that smoke emitted from a fireplace inside the home can severely impact the overall air quality. Filters should be utilised if the use of fire cannot be reduced, as it lessens the amount of harmful gas mixing with the air.