Understanding Air Pollution: A Breath Of Fresh Air

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Our earth’s atmosphere has changed vastly.  Presence of invisible pollutants in the air we breathe has dangerously affected public health.  A bunch of people has died from respiratory and related diseases.  Many others suffer all their lives.

Smog Versus Fog

As you drive your way to the office or drop your kid to school and got stuck in the traffic, try to look at the sky.  You might see it covered with smog.  My kids and some adults I happened to drive with mistakenly refer to it as fog.  I told them, “No, it’s not.”  And would explain that fog is the formation of water droplets in the air.  On the other hand, smog is caused by pollution in the ozone layer, which is a bad thing.

Every day, we inhale what fills our air.  And often, it is the complex mixtures of particles such as carbon and liquid droplets of chemicals produced by incomplete burning of fuels.   The black smokes emitted by factories and vehicles make our surroundings dirty.  Can you imagine what they do to your lungs?

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Harmful Effects Of Air Pollutants

You may see children in the park scratching their eyes, nose, or skin.  Or, someone you came across the street suddenly sneezed. That could be irritation caused by the pollutants in the air.  Toxic waste that mix with the air we breathe is harmful.  A worst-case scenario could be the death of someone you know.  It is of importance that we educate ourselves to understand air pollution and the implications it has on our health and the health of our loved ones.

Knowing The Quality Of The Air We Breathe

Teams of experts are willing to help us understand what’s happening in the air.  They gathered air quality data in a particular area.  They then test the kind of pollutants present in the air.  These findings help policymakers take action.  It allows them to plan viable strategies and campaigns to educate people.   Society plays a vital role in improving the quality of the air.  The drives should be made appealing to both young and old.  Effective campaigns will help people understand why they should be aware.  It is only through better understanding that the government will make them participate in the move to have cleaner air.

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Persistent Organic Pollutants

POPs or persistent organic pollutants are toxic chemicals that affect the environment globally.   Why globally? Because they can be floating in the air, transported by wind and water.   They can thrive for long periods in the surroundings and can accumulate and be passed from one species to another through a food chain.

As the name implies, these are organic compounds that imitate the structure of bodily hormones.  They are so small that when inhaled, they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.  Once the body mistakes them as being natural hormones, they can be carcinogenic.

POPs are present in ordinary objects and supplies.  They can be found in aerosols, electrical coatings in our gadgets, insecticides, cigarettes, agricultural byproducts, and more on the list.

Initiatives By The Government And Private Sectors

Many different sectors, both government and private institutions, have initiated global campaigns.  Environment Canada and Lancaster are helping in studying POPs all over the world.

The United States and Canada signed in 1997 the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy.  Its goal is to reduce toxic pollutants, POPs included, in the Great Lakes Basin for over ten years.  This move is in close cooperation with the state, every sector of the government, industry, academia, environmental and different community groups.  They practically were able to eliminate toxic substances like mercury, PCBs, and dioxin from settling into the Great Lakes environment.  They are continually working together to extend the efforts in finding ways to eradicate emerging substance that threatens the quality of air and water.

Another organization is the United Nations Environment Programme which is an agency of the United Nations.  They assist developing countries in implementing comprehensive environmental policies and practices.  They support the strengthening and development of national action plans for reducing the emission of black carbon and methane to generate good air quality.

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What Should Be Our Advocacy

We should take issues on air pollution more seriously because they are a threat to our health.  It is indeed scary.  We can only effectively do something when we understand what’s going on.  We should never take for granted the quality of the air we breathe.  It is our life.

The next time you go out there, take a look around you.   Take a deep breath.  Imagine what’s in that air that you just inhaled.  Ask yourself.  Did I contribute to the waste that fills that air? Or did I do something to make that air a little cleaner than it used to be?

We should work hand in hand to develop a sense of personal advocacy in helping the government sector by participating in their campaigns.  The government can’t do it alone.  We should play our part if we still want to have a breath of fresh air in the years to come. Without the cooperation of one sector, it is useless.

Commitment to achieving this common goal will make us regain back the fresh air we once had.



Persistent organic pollutants: a global issue, a global response.  Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/persistent-organic-pollutants-global-issue-global-response


Air pollution: know your enemy. (2018, September 10).  Retrieved from https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/air-pollution-know-your-enemy

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