To look on the bright side of pollution, if you believe there to be one, the United States’ efforts to reduce harmful air pollutants are not in vain. According to the American Lung Association, pollution levels in the U.S. have improved significantly over the last decade, focusing specifically on the cities that were most heavily polluted. Even Los Angeles, the home to the dirtiest, has had record-breaking lowest pollutant levels recently in April of this year. In rating the air quality in cities and counties around the country, the American Lung Association takes into account the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which alerts the public about unhealthy air conditions. Also, four cities: Pittsburgh, San Diego, Philadelphia and Visalia, California, dropped to their lowest levels of short-term particle pollution on record. This proves to be good information for those of us who want to help change this earth we inhabit for the better. All we can do is try our hardest to treat our earth correctly, enforce strict regulations, and hope for the best.
Caption: A view from the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.
Photo and article by Kate Galbraith
We usually see pictures in newspapers displaying the grotesque shots of pollutions in inner city living, but what about the beautiful, natural wonders of the world? The areas surrounding the Guadalupe Mountains National Park are becoming more and more polluted and it’s causing problems for hikers and sight-seers whose view is obstructed by clouds of particulate matter and smoke. According to the park geologist, the entire summer of 2011-2012 was hazy in the mountains. The EPA wants cleaner air at national parks across the country, including Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend National Park in Texas. By November of 2012, the EPA is supposed to complete a plan that could regulate emissions from dozens of Texas’ industrial plants, with the goal of reducing haze at parks. I believe this to be a great justice because these parks are part of our land and deserve to be protected.
Caption: Smoke clears, but respiratory problems remain.
Article by Andrew L. Wang
As you’ve probably been told all your life, air pollution is bad and it affects your overall health. Redundant, yes… incorrect, no. The facts remain, as do the problems associated with outdoor and indoor air pollution. There are still blankets of this somewhat known substance coating our very own cities, and something needs to be done pronto. What people don’t understand is that air pollution might affect healthy people in one way, but other people that aren’t already healthy individuals can acquire much worse conditions being exposed to this pollution. The decreased oxygen due to high particulate matter can tire out healthy people, but people with respiratory or cardiac illnesses tend to experience more serious symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Cities such as Chicago are reaching near-illegal particulate limits every day. Something needs to be done.
Caption: Pittsburgh got a pollution score of 17.0, putting it at #7 on the list of polluted cities.
When I read this fact, it blew my mind. I did not know Pittsburgh was in the top 10 most polluted cities in the United States, let alone number 7! This picture is not a gruesome shot of an example of air pollution, but it says something. It says, “this is where you live”, even though you don’t see it, pollution is there. It can be closer than you even think. This picture is shown in CBS News’s top 10 most polluted cities list and definitely deserves a spot with a pollution score of 17.0. This picture did not say it had a taker,but credit is given to Jgera for the upload. Even though you think you live in an area with no threats, reconsider and take safety precautions, because pollution can be right around the corner.
Caption: London has been found to be one of the most polluted places in Europe. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Don’t believe everything you hear about fantasy getaway vacation spots. Apparently, London is one of Europe’s most polluted cities, while constantly getting fined for the outrageous levels of pollutants there. This might shed new light on the fact that London used to be known as “The Big Smoke”. In cities such as this, the average person’s life expectancy is supposed to be impacted by up to 2 years negatively. In fact, poor air quality is quickly becoming one of the biggest health issues concerning the UK. Allegedly, certain more strict regulations are soon being placed on industries that contribute to air quality, traffic, and emissions.
Caption: Local and foreign artists were invited to create murals with unique paint
Posted by Envirothink
As we progress as a population, we should all make a conscious effort to better this world that we inhabit. Air pollution is a constant reminder that the future well-being of our planet is contingent on how we treat this home now. I never would have imagined that some day we would have a paint that helped eliminate harmful toxins in the air we breathe. Graffiti has been thought of as a criminal act for as long as I can remember, and now people have come up with a special titanium dioxide paint that breaks down harmful chemicals in the air we breathe. A Philippines-based paint manufacturer, Boysen, has developed a paint that contains “micronized” titanium dioxide molecules that break down toxic substances when activated by light. “It acts as a photo catalyst and, in the presence of sunlight or artificial lighting, it brings down noxious gases such as nitrogen dioxides and other VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) in the air,” said Patrick Negrete, Boysen Project Management Engineer. So, who ever would think that this street art would perhaps make some difference and brighten the lives of passers-by? Well, now we have eco-generous/eco-friendly paint that decreases those harmful chemicals and presents a beautiful mural in addition.
This documentary film, “A Breath Of Air”, explores all the negative consequences outdoor and indoor pollution have on today’s children, our future. This film looks specifically at Los Angeles and its surrounding areas for approximately 200 miles. It was produced and directed by Keren Markuze, with Andrea Hricko, a USC associate professor of preventive medicine at Keck School of Medicine as executive director, with funding from the California Air Resources Board. The study conducted was deemed the Children’s Health Study. This study has been going on since 1993 and will hopefully go on for decades. The film interviews several mothers with young kids who have been affected by air pollution where they live. Also, the documentary repeatedly states that it is younger kids that this pollution affects the most because the most damage is done on growing tissue, which is the case with the younger generation. Specifically, the film describes four main repercussions of air pollution: decreased lung function, more frequent respiratory illness, increased school absences, and developing asthma. In a way, this documentary is aimed at undermining the already implemented air regulations that our society has, and proving that something else needs to be done.
Caption: Scientists have linked exposure to air pollution to an increased risk of heart attack.
We already know the effects air pollution has on ones lungs, skin, and our environment, but what do we know relating air pollution to heart disease and heart attacks? According to MSN News, researchers said that being exposed to all major toxic fumes for up to 7 days “significantly” increases ones risk for a heart attack. The studies that were conducted based the facts off of the presence of C-reactive protein found in the blood, which is directly linked to heart attacks. These C-reactive proteins are also found in the pollution in our air! This means we are unintentionally inhaling proteins that are directly correlated with an increase in heart attacks. With proper measures taken, we can lower the levels of pollution and in turn increase our chances of a heart-attack-free life.
Caption: While the United States is cutting its own emissions, some nations, especially China, are belching out more and more dirty air. By Guang Niu Getty Images and article by Traci Watson.
Emissions in the United States, while still causing most of the air pollution, have been lowered drastically in recent years. Although cutting emission and going green here is a good thing, other nations are not giving as much effort. As a result, the United States is getting second-hand pollution from other nations. According to USA Today, mercury from China, dust from Africa, and smog from Mexico drift freely across U.S. borders and contaminate the air millions of Americans breathe. As a result, overseas pollution could partly cancel out improvements in U.S. air quality that have cost billions of dollars. In the article, Watson states, “… the agency (EPA) estimates that 40% of the mercury that sinks out of the air and lands in the USA comes from overseas”. Unlike other pollutions, this one has no boundaries and cannot be controlled. With such virulent factors, this second-hand pollution needs to be put to a stop.
“In recent years pollution has been a recurring problem for major cities in Iran. Last year the Iranian government enforced strict traffic laws to curb this deadly phenomenon; however, air pollution caused the government to close down public organizations, banks, schools and universities in Tehran. However, the experts believe the issue needs something more than a temporary solution” (Mehr News Agency).
Pollution in Iran is currently at an all time high. Experts say low quality domestically produced gasoline, large number of gas-guzzling cars and motorcycles, and inefficient and outdated public transport system are the main factors responsible for the dangerous air pollution. Residents complain about not being able to open windows during the warm seasons because the air pollution is so prominent. The Iranian city of Ahwaz has the highest levels of any of the 1,100 cities worldwide that were studied by the WHO, with about 372 micrograms.
In today's world, there is a metastasizing problem that becomes increasingly prevalent in our physical lives everyday. Pollution on a global scale not only affects our well-being, but serves as a social injustice because of its easy preventative measures that cease to be taken.