Welcome to #SolutionMonday on CleanbuildVoices!
In today’s edition, we’ll explore what air pollution is, why you should be concerned and steps you can take to reduce indoor air pollution.
WHAT? Many today don’t really care about air pollution. They feel that there are other things worth losing sleep over like hunger, water scarcity, unemployment, and a host of other socio-economic problems.
But before we get to why you should be concerned, let’s attempt a definition of air pollution. Simply put, air pollution is the presence of toxic chemicals or compounds in the air at levels that pose a danger to human health.
How do you feel when you breathe in vehicle exhaust, generator fumes, or smokes that waft from factories. Uncomfortable, not so?
Well beyond feelings of comfort, toxic gases such as these are not only harmful to human health but also to the environment. This brings us to why you should be concerned about air pollution.
WHY? One of the most dangerous things about air pollution is that in most cases, pollutants cannot be seen or smelled. Often cited as a silent and invisible killer, air pollution is responsible for the death of about 10 million people every year.
“But air pollution can’t be that serious”, you may say to yourself. Let me narrate a brief story about a Chinese artist named Wang Renzheng.
Wang would spend four hours every day for 100 days moving about in Beijing’s various landmarks. Pulling with him an industrial vacuum cleaner to suck in Beijing’s notoriously polluted air.
After 100 days, he was able to gather 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of dust, which was used to form a brick. Shocking, not so? Though directed at the Chinese government, Wang carried out his experiment to prove that air pollution is an issue that should never be ignored.
While we may not directly inhale a brick, there is a real danger of falling victim to lung cancer, respiratory and cardiac diseases depending on the level of exposure to carbon emission. This takes us to the next point which is how to protect yourself from air pollution in your home.
HOW? Consider the following tips on practical ways you can reduce indoor air pollution.
- Switch to clean cooking. Although you might find the use of firewood economical not to mention the idea that food cooked over an open fire is more delicious, however, it’s not worth dying over. Use clean cooking stoves, electric cookers, or briquettes depending on what you can afford.
- Keep lots of plants around the house. You don’t necessarily need a green thumb before you can tend to plants. You could have potted plants like Aloe Vera around the house to help freshen up the air.
- Avoid using lots of harsh chemicals when cleaning. If this cannot be avoided, wear protective gear such as a nose mask when using harsh, pungent chemicals. Open all windows and doors to allow the smells to dissipate.
- Monitor pollutants in your own home. Once you notice pollutants, tackle them with an air purifier.
- Save energy. When not in use, turn off lights and electric appliances.
Having shared with you tips that can help you know how to save the environment from pollution, you can start applying these one at a time.
You don’t have to do everything at once if you can’t. What is important is taking sustainable actions to keep the air clean for yourself and the planet in the larger scheme of things.