On average, each of us breathes over 3,000 gallons of air each day.*1 This is important when you think about the quality of the air we breathe or how clean it is. Air pollution is any unwanted substance in the air in amounts that cause harm to human health and the environment. Dirty air can make people, animals and plants sick.
Ambient (Outdoor) Air
Air pollution enters the outdoor air from natural sources or human activities. Natural sources of air pollution include forest fires, dust, and volcanoes. The majority of air pollutants, however, come from human activities which burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas.
Air pollution is especially a big problem in cities; however, dirty air affects everything on earth. Scientists are finding that air pollution in one area can be swept up into high level air currents and travel long distances, even to other countries and across the oceans. Some of the effects of human activity on the air are seen in the formation of smog and acid rain and with the depletion of the ozone layer. It is also believed that air pollution, such as greenhouse gases, contributes to climate change.
Things you can do to reduce air pollution:
- Choose to walk, ride a bike, or carpool to get where you are going.
- Save energy by turning off lights, televisions and computers when leaving the room.
- Plant a tree. Trees absorb the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the air.
- Read about the environment and find more ways to help the planet.
*1 Information from the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air and Radiation