Lasting change for air quality requires day-to-day commitment

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Lasting change for air quality requires day-to-day commitment

Sunday, 06 November 2022 | HEALTH PIONEER

Lasting change for air quality requires day-to-day commitment

You as an individual and organisation too can take measures to improve air quality. Experts in the sector offer tips. The HEALTH PIONEER reports

Simple measures you can take to keep the toxic air at bay

n Clean and change your home air filter as necessary: While ambient air quality may be outside of your immediate control, you have a great deal of control over the indoor air quality inside your own home. In addition to keeping a clean indoor environment with adequate air ventilation, using an air filter in the home can significantly improve indoor air quality. This may consist of a portable filter and/or an updated filter in a home’s HVAC system which removes some, though not all, of pollutants found in the home.

n Take alternative methods of transportation when possible: By walking, biking, or carpooling to their destination, individuals can reduce the release of vehicle emissions that pollute the air. Choosing to group all errands into a single trip and grouping all online orders into one batch during the week also helps to cut down on these transportation-related emissions.

n Using environmentally safe, natural home cleaning products: While having a clean home helps ensure good indoor air quality, many household cleaning products can release pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), greenhouse gases, and toxic air pollutants, either by directly releasing them or by creating these compounds as a byproduct after reacting with the surrounding air. Consumers can choose safer cleaning products too.

Keeping rugs and carpets clean also supports better indoor air quality, as they can act as air filters by collecting dust and other particles in the home, removing them from the air.

n Create an air quality garden: Adding more plants—specifically, those which research has found remove certain air pollutants—to one’s yard can be helpful in fighting outdoor air pollution. Different plants can help lower pollutant levels in their surroundings.

n Choose green fuel: Wood burning also accounts for detrimental effects on regional air quality.


Organizations too need to chip-in

n Allow employees to work from home: While many businesses have begun work-from-home operations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing employees to work from home on a regular basis reduces the number of cars on the road, especially the number driven by solo individuals while commuting to and from work each day. Telework also requires less energy to heat, cool, and light office buildings and power office equipment.

Reducing the number of cars on the road, whether by telecommuting, taking other forms of transportation, or carpooling with others, decreases the amount of harmful emissions released into the air.

n Encourage the use of alternative means of transportation: When remote work is not possible, businesses can encourage employees to choose alternative means of transportation that are more environmentally friendly: walking, biking, public transportation, and carpooling. A British clean air campaign found that eliminating even 1 out of 5 cars on the road for business purposes equates to 11 billion miles saved per year in the U.K.—the equivalent amount of emissions as two airports. This would correspond to a 3.3 million ton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the UK alone.

n Clean and replace building air filters as needed: Installing, cleaning, and replacing air filters in office buildings promotes cleaner indoor air, especially in a place where people spend many hours each day. The EPA has also released a guide on further practices that can be taken to improve air quality in the workplace, such as disposing of garbage correctly, storing food properly, and managing possible pollutant sources like pest control and construction within the complex.

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