The Air That I Breathe: Reducing Emissions
How often do we hear warnings for people with respiratory conditions to stay inside to avoid high levels of poor or toxic air in their communities? There are good reasons for those warnings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sees how damaging these sky-high air pollutant levels can be and, as a result, are focusing more closely on urban air quality standards. This tougher EPA enforcement may cost states millions of dollars as they scramble to reverse their air quality levels to an acceptable and more breathable level.
As states work with large corporations to regulate and reduce pollutant levels, business and civic leaders also are asking residents to help keep our air more breathable. One way is to educate people on their daily use of tools, equipment and machines that use gasoline and emit harmful emissions. How can neighbors and friends do their part to cut down on pollutants? There are ways to make this work.
Equipment as Air Pollutants
First, we need to understand where pollutants originate. Air pollutants and smog levels increase due to many factors, but gas-powered landscaping tools are a major contributor. That’s right, 5% of air pollution today can be directly attributed to lawn maintenance! Your gas-powered lawnmower, weed whacker, and hedge trimmer are doing a lot more to the Earth than just cleaning up your lawn — they’re leaving a long-lasting and extremely harmful impact on our environment.
That 5% may not seem like much, but it could be mean a world of difference to people with asthma who are forced to stay inside when air quality plummets. That 5% could be the cause of lung problems and heart attacks. That 5% could be just enough to tip the air pollution scales into long-lasting negative consequences for everyone.
No one wants to see the Earth’s atmosphere destroyed, but a lot of people aren’t sure what they can do to stop air pollution — so they do nothing. Some people may think their efforts will be wasted. After all, how could one person possibly have a positive impact on reducing air pollution?
Your own eco-friendly actions can change air quality we breathe. When you start to act, your actions can influence friends, family, and neighbors. You can spark a positive chain reaction of change throughout your neighborhood. And it all starts in your backyard.
Here are some simple tips to reduce harmful emissions and improve the air quality around you:
1. Eat locally: More people are finding ways to shop locally for vegetables and fruits from local fruit stands and home-grown farmers markets. By shopping for fresh local produce, individuals are cutting down on miles and emissions.
3. Reduce car emissions: You may already have a new hybrid gas-electric car, but others in your community may need some prodding to upgrade their autos. New regulations being proposed by the EPA and the Obama administration hopes to reduce smog, soot, and dangerous emissions from car exhaust pipes by 2017. Until then, look to rechargeable or hybrid models at the very least.
4. Eliminate backyard fires: Many homeowners still maintain a fire pit for outdoor fires during the warmer months. However, instead of burning clean wood that is less toxic, some homeowners use their backyard fire as an incinerator for old cardboard boxes, newspapers, and even plastic packaging. Burning these items will create toxins and spoil the air for you and your neighbors. Burn clean wood, or better yet, reduce your use of backyard fires.
5. Follow EPA advice: Learn more about air quality programs in your area. The EPA web site lists statewide programs that offer air quality education. If you’re sincere about reducing your carbon footprint, learn more.
Air pollution is something you can impact — both negatively and positively. Start making a positive impact this summer. When you do, you’ll make a long-lasting improvement to our air quality and our environment, helping everyone breathe a little easier.
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