Air Pollution


Air pollution gets worse and worse each year and countries are trying to solve at least decrease this major problem by different solutions since it brings many troubles into human life such as triggering asthma attacks, reduces the function of children’s lungs, heat-related disease and illnesses, infectious disease, drought and floods.

Last Friday, pollution levels hit 180 micro grams of PM 10 particulates per cubic meter in Paris more than double the safe limit of 80. After this big pollution level the French government decided to let only odd-numbered number plates drive on Monday and only even-numbered number plates on Tuesday. Motorcycles were also covered by the ban. There were exceptions for taxis, commercial electric and hybrid vehicles and for cars carrying three or more passengers. Ministers acted after air pollution exceeded safe levels for five days running in Paris and surrounding areas. The measure has been tried once before in 1997.

Air pollution is also a severe problem in China costing billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and health expenses. In order to prevent this cost China is working on the most basic solution for air pollution which is to quit coal and move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with clean, renewable energy.

America’s power plants are our biggest polluters in the region. Each year they pump more than two billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon pollution is causing climate change that drives dangerous heat waves and worsening smog pollution, which causes serious respiratory illnesses.

Air pollution impact on health is much more expensive than we think. In 2011, NRDC studied six types of climate change-related types of events in the U.S.between 2002 and 2009 — episodes of ozone air pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, outbreaks of infectious disease, river flooding, and wildfires. They are all monitored to increase in severity, frequency with climate change. The associated health costs exceeded $14 billion which included deaths, illnesses, and more than 760,000 visits to the doctor, hospital, emergency room or other health care facilities. (These health effects were described in a paper in the national journal Health Affairs.)

In the short-term, there are many intermediate solutions for air pollution. However, all of these solutions require governments to recognize the impact of air pollution on public health and the economy, and take action immediately such as tighten the controls for power plant emissions to reduce emissions, introducing cleaner fuel standards and switching to electric vehicles and restrict the construction of power plants and other energy-intensive industries near residential areas. And of course all countries need to improve urban planning to increase green spaces.