By PAIGE SAILOR
Actress and singer Lillian Russell once said, “Let the clean air blow the cobwebs from your body. Air is medicine.” If something as simple as clean air is essential to not only a healthy body but also a healthy mind, should California residents be more concerned about air pollution?
What exactly is air pollution?
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, air pollution is just as it sounds: it’s pollution released into the air, but there are different types.
The most common form of air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels which releases gasses and chemicals into the air. It can also be in the form of carbon dioxide and methane that can raise the earth’s temperature. Another form is smog, which is fog combined with smoke or other pollutants, and is worsened by increased heat due to more ultraviolet radiation.
When we think of pollution we typically think of big cities like Los Angeles and NewYork, two cities built on the image of work and industrialization. But in many pictures of American industrialization, air pollution can clearly be seen coming from buildings and factories in many cities across the country.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “In October 1948, Donora, Pennsylvania, nearly half of the town’s 14,000 residents experienced severe respiratory or cardiovascular problems due to being blanketed in lethal smog.”
How has pollution evolved in America over the last hundred years?
Although according to EPA since 1970 to now between the combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants the air quality in the U.S. has improved by a near 78% but we still have a long way to go because,
According to Earth.org “Air pollution is the worst pollution-related epidemic in the world. It is responsible for the death of at least seven million people every year.”
National Geographic states that air pollution can have long term effects, such as “heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, other organs and even birth defects.”
What is being done to combat air pollution?
There are many laws that have been put into place to combat air pollution but according to Cal Matters ,“California’s environmental justice law is supposed to clean the air for 15 hot spot communities, home to almost 4 million people. But after more than 4 years and $1 billion, it’s still impossible to say whether it’s worked.”
On Sept. 16, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom’s six climate bills were signed into law with a $54 billion budget including a $1.5 billion wildfire and forest resilience package, a $3.9 Billion Zero-Emission Vehicle Package and many others.
What can we as individuals do to combat air pollution?
According to California Air Resources Board there are many ways we as individuals can help fight air pollution which may include creating less day-to-day waste, not burning your garbage, keeping your car in good condition, not heating your home with a gas stove, and many others.
California Air Resources Board also suggests that things like recycling, not using wood burning stoves, carpooling, preparing for the weather, and picking up after yourself and others can help.
In the last twenty years air pollution and climate change have become a top priority in America and around the world. Many Americans would consider climate an important part of everyday life according to Pew Research Center.
As former president Barack Obama said, “Without regard to whether some place is wealthy or poor, everybody should have a chance at clean air and clean water.”