Thursday, August 17, 2017

Air Pollution: What You Can Do To Help

All this talk of Air Pollution may leave you wondering - what can I personally do to reduce these negative effects and help towards creating a healthier, pollutant free environment? The Environmental Protection Agency provides a variety of resources that allow you to track your impact on the environment. Their website includes a Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator that translates abstract energy and emissions numbers into terms you can understand. It also includes a Carbon Footprint Calculator that allows you to measure your household carbon footprint, and gives suggestions on how to reduce your footprint. Using these resources can help you better understand your direct impact on air quality.

What can be done to reduce your impact? Here is a list to help you in the future:

  • Conserve energy – remember to turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances
  • Participate in your local utility’s energy conservation programs
  • Limit driving by carpooling, using public transportation, biking and walking
  • Combine errands for fewer trips
  • Use electric or hand-powered lawn care equipment
  • Be careful not to spill gasoline when filling up your car or gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners
  • Use water-based or solvent free paints whenever possible and buy products that say "low VOC"
  • Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent volatile organic compounds from evaporating into the air
  • Purchase and use low-polluting outboard marine engines and personal watercraft (4-stroke and direct fuel injection 2-stroke outboard marine engines)
  • Advocate for emission reductions from power plants and more stringent national vehicle emission standards


Why does Egypt continue to add to their air pollution?

This black cloud that looms Cairo, we have now discovered that is made up of agricultural malpractices and dust. However, we are also missing another key component of how the people also add to the air pollution. Smoking. People smoke a lot in Cairo, about 90% of the people do. This leads to them living a short life, the average life expectancy is 60 years old. “It is said that living in Cairo is the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes a day”.

So even after the citizens of Egypt know that their malpractice in agriculture and their smoking adds to the air pollution, why haven’t they taken efforts to reduce it? People end up putting their money on their health bills due to the air intake and the effect on their respiratory and immune system. If people would come together to use their money on resources to better improve a way to decrease the pollution amount they’d ultimately be saving money. At this point they are choosing to pay for their health bills or pay for a solution to help the future of their home.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy to say that the money they use on their health will be used on solutions. Many people do not have the advantage of having a living wage in order to be able to help and provide a solution. To learn more about why Egypt continues to burn their farm waste, read here.

India: Breathing in Style or Masking the Issue?

Over the last couple of years, the popularity of wearing breathing masks continues to rise as the air pollution worsens. Although many assume that China is the number one most polluted place on earth, a new study shows that India has won that battle. It's not anything to celebrate, but for those residents who can't relocate, it seems like there is a way to deal with the toxic air.
That is, at least for now. Previously, residents of India have worn regular masks, but with brands like Vogmask, the game has changed. Ranging anywhere from $16.00 - $44.00 USD, Vogmasks have become a popular line of masks thanks to the trendy designs to choose from. 

CEO of Vogmask India, Jai Dhar Gupta, is doing well on the market. He started out by buying a few online, and then ended up distributing it throughout India. Despite being known under the name Vogmask, the company is also known as Nirvana Being. The masks are not only non-disposable, but it helps filter out the dust and other pollutants. Other than the obvious benefit, the popularity in this line of masks also comes from the fashion statement one can make when wearing one. Especially since they come in various styles.
Although popular and fashionable, is it effective? The PM2.5 (fine particulate mattercan still find its way through the masks, and into your lungs. This is terrifying, specifically for those who are already terminally sick. Unfortunately, there aren't many other options for those residing in India.

One alternative is buying an air purifier or simply not doing activities outside that require heavy breathing. But is this a way to live? The thing is, there shouldn't be alternatives for how to handle air pollution going into our lungs. Instead, we should get to the root of the problem,  and not slow it down. What happens when the masks are no longer affective? What else can be done instead of masking - literally -  the issue?

Air Pollution Creates Art?

At some point or another, we’ve heard that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. What about when life gives you air pollution… make ink? That’s right. Creators like Anirudh Sharma, are finding ways to repurpose unexpected resources into art.
With the alarming rise of air pollution in places like India, what is one to do besides try and conserve energy? Sharma, a college dropout turned innovator, founded a new project called Air-Ink. Located in Bengaluru, India, it couldn't be in a more perfect location. With experts providing data that India has the worst air on earth, it doesn't appear that Sharma will run out of pollution anytime soon.

This design is aimed at recycling soot. In other words, the residue caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is what is captured and then turned into ink.

The process is much more complicated of course, but the idea is simple – decrease air pollution from reaching our lungs. The team of Air-Ink experts have created a device that looks similar to a canister, but is easily attachable to any exhaust pipe. Whether it be on a car, or a boat, the technology that has gone into this product is already making an impact.
The soot is then carefully processed and purified for the end result – ink. Artists from across the country have begun using this product, and the art they’re creating is captivating! 

They (Graviky Ink) are estimating that 1.6 trillion liters of air have already been cleaned so far. 

Can you think of any creative ways to recycle toxics on earth, into something creative and environmentally friendly?

For more information, visit