Every year, the American Lung Association (ALA) issues the “State of the Air” which catalogs levels of pollution across the US.
Key findings from the “State of the Air: 2009” include:
- Six out of ten people (61.7%) in the United States population lives in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
- Roughly six out of ten people in the United States— 58 percent—live in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone.
- Roughly three out of ten people in the United States live in an area with unhealthful short-term levels of particle pollution, an increase from the last report.
There are number of things that we can all do to improve the environment and cut carbon emissions.
- Drive less. Combine trips, walk, bike, carpool or vanpool, and use buses, subways or other alternatives to driving. Vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution. Support community plans that provide ways to get around that don’t require a car, such as more sidewalks, bike trails and transit systems.
- Don’t burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the largest sources of particles in many parts of the country. If you must use a fireplace or stove for heat, convert your woodstoves to natural gas, which has far fewer polluting emissions. Compost and recycle as much as possible and dispose of other waste properly; don’t burn it. Support efforts in your community to ban outdoor burning of construction and yard wastes. Avoid the use of outdoor hydronic heaters, also called outdoor wood boilers, which are often much more polluting than woodstoves.
- Make sure your local school system requires clean school buses, which includes replacing or retrofitting old school buses with filters and other equipment to reduce emissions. Make sure your local schools don’t idle their buses, a step that can immediately reduce the emissions.
- Get involved. Participate in your community’s review of its air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up air pollution.
- Use less electricity. Turn out the lights and use energy-efficient appliances. Generating electricity is one of the biggest sources of pollution, particularly in the eastern United States.
- Send a message to decision makers. Send an email or fax to urge Congress to oppose measures that weaken the Clean Air Act.
Learn other ways you can help the environment.
Source: American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2009