Thursday, June 3, 2010

What's the state of your air?

While researching the area I will be moving to in the next few weeks, I stumbled across the American Lung Association's website.  There were lots of interesting facts about air pollution in general, and you can get the latest tests results for your area.

I found their section Air Pollution Myths interesting too.  I'll lay them out for you.

Myth 1 - Air pollution is no longer a problem. It used to be, yes, but not anymore.Facts - Fortunately, we have cleaner air, but the air in too many places can still make people sick. This year’s State of the Air report shows that 175.3 million people live in counties air pollution can cause coughing and wheezing, send people to the doctor or the hospital, and even shorten their lives.

Myth 2 - Anything “green” or “eco-friendly” is good for the air, too.Facts - Not everything “green” is good for your lungs. Take burning wood for fuel, for example. Although wood is natural, renewable, and “green,” smoke from burning wood contains particles and gases that can be very dangerous, even life-threatening.  In many communities, wood-burning in the winter is the biggest source of their unhealthy air. So be careful to avoid burning wood or trash, and be sure going “green” is also good for your pink lungs.

Myth 3 - The more miles per gallon my car gets, the less air pollution it will produce. Facts - Cars emissions are based on the type of car it is, not on the amount fuel it uses. Car manufacturers design each vehicle to meet certain limits on the air pollutants that can come out of the tailpipe. The limits are the same for all the cars in that category no matter how many miles to the gallon they get.
Myth 4 - All we really need to do is to cut our carbon footprint and we’ll solve the air pollution problem.
Facts - Unfortunately, no.  Yes, some of the sources of air pollution also produce carbon dioxide emissions.  And changing our climate may make air pollution worse than it would have otherwise been in the future. However, cleaning up air pollutants requires different equipment than cleaning up carbon dioxide— like dust filters, for example.  Actually, some air pollutants cause global warming, too. So cleaning up those pollutants can help fight global warming. So.  it’s a good idea to be sure that we clean up air pollution in anything we do for our environment.
Myth 5 - Air pollution may still be a problem, but only in Los Angeles or Houston.Facts - Both of those cities continue to have serious air pollution problems, but so do many other cities and counties across the nation. Many communities have air pollution levels that researchers have found harms health.  Some places in any community may be even more harmful, like near a major roadway. Research has shown that pollution levels near busy freeways may be high enough to be dangerous even in otherwise clean air communities. 

To find out the air quality in your area, put your zip code in the box below.

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