What Can be Done About Air Pollution

More people need to wonder and act on what can be done about air pollution. It’s a big problem. EPA records may show air pollution is reduced, but increasing incidents of asthma indicate air pollution is a growing concern. Even if NASA’s software had a Y2K bug and analyzed data incorrectly, air pollution problems abound. Everyone needs to act, to do their part in improving air quality so we can all breath fresh, clean air.

It’s not enough to read and worry about air pollution, or talk about it at parties, or over dinner or coffee. Someone has to do something about air pollution, too. Start with yourself.

First, protect yourself and your loved ones from air pollution. Pay attention to those air quality alerts on your local news and air quality control agency’s Web site. Do as they say: stay indoors, reduce driving and exercise, and certainly do not light that wood-burning fireplace. Open windows when cooking or using household cleaners, paints, pesticides, etc. Change your furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly, and use filters that trap very small particles. Maintain healthy relative humidity. Have your home inspected for mold. Buy an effective HEPA air filtration system.

Second, work with your neighbors to reduce air pollution in your neighborhood and workplace. Carpool. Organize a bike-to-work buddies network; not just for one day, but every day. Monitor new business applications in your zoning area, and attend zoning commission meetings to let commissioners know you won’t stand for air-polluting variances. Ask your employer about the air quality in your workplace, and call occupational health authorities anonymous if you think the air where you work is unhealthy. Encourage your coworkers to do the same.

Third, get involved with air quality activists in your city, county, and state. Seriously involved; don’t just write a check or sign a petition, carry signs and march on the state capitol. Get to know the politicians who are serious about air quality, and those who are not. Make sure everyone you know knows which is which, too. Vote accordingly.

Fourth, write to your federal legislative representatives about air pollution issues that matter to you on paper, not via e-mail. Public opinion is measured in postmarked pages, not Web pages. But a Web site or blog is a good way to share what you learn with other local concerned citizens. Use the internet tools of the people.

Tell the corporations that pollute your air excessively that you will not buy their stuff until they stop. Tell them which of their competitors’ stuff you are buying instead; how much you spend on it; and why. Tell them what they must do in order to earn your money. Again, tell it on paper; send a handwritten note on the back of a copy of every receipt for a purchase you make from their competitors. Use the Internet, and happy hour, to tell everyone else what you’re doing.

Chain yourself to a tree. Lie down in front of a bulldozer. Be as inconvenient and embarrassing to air polluters as possible.

Finally, stop wanting so much that you don’t need. Buy less and breathe easier. Buy locally-made things when you must buy, whenever possible. It creates less air pollution to bring it to your home. Drink tap water, not bottled stuff trucked across the country by smoke-belching 18-wheelers. Buy air filters made from renewable fibers, not petrochemicals.

Pay as much attention to what you are doing to pollute the air as you do to what others are doing. Those are just some of the ideas about what can be done about air pollution.

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