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Air Pollution Affects Everyone And The Clock is Ticking

Whether you live in a city bustling with life (and plenty of smog) or out in the beautiful countryside with seemingly clean, fresh air, you are experiencing the same detrimental effects of global air pollution. When it comes to the environment almost all ecological systems are intertwined and interdependent, thus making air pollution equally detrimental in its effects worldwide.

The very existence of certain species greatly depends upon air quality and front patterns, which have been steadily damaged by climate change as a result of air pollution. For example, Newts in the Redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest are dependent upon the warm, humid air that rises from the Pacific Ocean. This air literally provides life to the forest, from the canopy to the forest floor. This interdependent environment is dependent upon the moisture coming from the air and is threatened by the effects of air pollution.

All this is to say that all environmental patterns are intertwined in one way or another and therefore, negatively affecting one aspect of the environment will create a domino effect throughout different environments. Air quality decreases due to all kinds of man-made pollutants and results in ozone depletion, leading to global warming causing even more harm. Air pollution is simply one of the greatest causes of disease worldwide. According to data collected by the Burden of Disease Project, outdoor air pollution is responsible for three percent of all adult cardiopulmonary disease mortality, five percent of lung cancer mortality, and one percent of all child mortality from respiratory infections in urban areas. Air pollution is a global pandemic as it kills a disturbing seven million people per year. This burden is the world’s largest preventable health risk, making breathing literally more dangerous than poor diet or smoking tobacco.

So what are some ways we can mitigate more of the negative effects of global air pollution?

Firstly, air pollutants have varied effects across respiratory systems, cardiovascular systems and allergies. Stricter air quality measures have been implemented in many developed, higher income nations, but lower and middle-income countries continue to breathe deteriorating air due to lower restrictions. Pollution greatly affects lower socioeconomic areas more and therefore global measures must be implemented focused on these areas specifically. On the individual, national and global level we have to increase efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in order to slow rates of climate change. So how do we do so as individuals?

  • We can oppose coal mining and cast our votes toward politicians that put sustainable solutions first. Coal mining is one of the greatest contributors to air deterioration worldwide, thus we need to show opposition to coal mines and put our votes towards sustainable energy practices such as wind and solar power.
  • We can contribute to mitigation by reducing energy consumption due to transportation. Try to walk, ride a bike or take public transportation more often than driving! Reduce air pollutants from high-polluting industries by supporting companies that offer sustainable solutions and practices when creating their products or offering their services.

  • Lastly, supporting rooftop garden efforts will help decrease temperatures across cities and also help mitigate pollution by providing clean, breathable air. Planting a small garden, contributing to your local rooftop garden one way or another, or simply placing house plants in your college apartment, dorm or house all are beneficial to air quality.

  • These are just a few ways to try to mitigate the effects of air pollution. Think of more ways (large or small) you can help the environment, your air quality and your quality of life by taking steps to combat the growing advances of climate change and air pollution.

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Abby is a senior at VCU majoring in Political Science and minoring in Media and Italian studies. She's passionate about all things related to food, travel, and dogs. In her free time she binge watches cooking/food shows on netflix, enjoys running with her pup to Belle Isle, practicing yoga and barre, and trying new restaurants wherever she goes. She enjoys grocery shopping, appreciates all things locally-sourced, and won't say no to kombucha. You can follow her on Instagram @mangiwithabby!
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