Opinion: Harmful air pollution in the Inland Empire needs attention and action


The scientific definition of air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to the health of humans and other living beings or cause damage to the climate or to materials, and it mostly happens because of humans. Air pollution should not be ignored any longer, as it is 2021 and getting worse by the day with not many people caring enough to do something about it, especially in the Inland Empire.

The Inland Empire has some of the worst ozone and soot pollution in the country. Counties like San Bernardino and Riverside have asthma rates twice as high as any other county or region in the United States. Air pollution cannot be reversed, but if done in time, it can be prevented and held in balance. 

A view of the Inland Empire shows the highly visible smog effect caused by ground-level ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide mixed during the early hours of morning. (DESTINY RAMOS MARIN/ Ethic Photo)

Air pollution is the most harmful form of pollution to humans, as breathing in polluted air can attract a number of health problems and diseases. This form of pollution can lead to diseases such as heart disease, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, lung cancer and other respiratory infections. Researchgate, a scientific research website, estimates that there are at least seven million people a year that die from illnesses linked to air pollution. If air pollution is not controlled by 2030, it might be necessary to use oxygen kits in order to breathe regularly. 

According to a study conducted by the American Lung Association, the region’s air pollution contributes to nearly 1,000 premature deaths per year in the Inland Empire. Sierra Club, an environmental group, states that the boom in warehouses and distribution centers built in the last decade that brings thousands of diesel-fueled truck deliveries daily and a host of chronic health problems for local residents is a suspected reason, though it has not been confirmed. 

Leah Cuevas, a resident of San Bernardino county, says, “I have lung problems and the main cause of them is [air] pollution.” Air pollution in the Inland Empire is linked to multiple health problems, but there are ways to combat it.

A few things others can do to prevent air pollution would be to conserve energy by turning off lights when they are not in use and looking for the energy star label when buying home or office equipment. Try to carpool or use public transportation and bike or walk whenever possible. Additionally, drivers should be careful not to spill fuel and always tighten the gas cap securely and consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled ‘spill-proof’. Always make sure the tires are properly inflated and use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.

Air pollution is one of, if not, the worst and most impactful form of pollution for both human health and the environment. If it is not reversed in time, it will become the biggest cause of global warming and, ultimately, the reason humanity will no longer be able to breath fresh air. Changing one’s daily routine would be a minor inconvenience to help hold air pollution in balance and prevent any further damage. 

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