Why improving air quality matters?

Written by Clement Kwan

Air Quality is a very basic and fundamental aspect of our world that we must strive to protect. Having clean air to breathe is necessary for good health and the current poor air quality that exists in our world has reduced many qualities of our life. Some may stem from air pollutants acting as irritants while others just smell bad. While others have caused respiratory diseases or even in some cases cancer.

Air quality is something very important in both indoor and outdoor environments. Some common outdoor air pollutants consist of Ground-level ozone, particulate matter and allergens, while others like secondhand smoke, mould and radon are commonly indoor air pollutants. Sometimes, poor air quality may hinder people’s ability or opportunity to be more physically active while others with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases) are at greater risk from poor air quality. Good air quality is an important livability indicator for a healthy community.

Why is Air Quality so Important?
Regardless of whether it stems from an indoor or outdoor situation, one thing stands clear and that’s how we as a society should deal with this prominent problem. Groups like the EEA (European Economic Area) have worked together to help better grasp the challenges of improving air quality on a more local scale. Expanding district heating, promoting cycling as an alternative, lowering speed limits and issuing congestion as one of the many changes to help improve local air quality.

Other successful initiatives also include those such as the relocation of industrial facilities, the modernisation of household stoves and boilers, transitioning to cleaner fuels for heating, and switching towards more eco-friendlier buses and trams, as well as the introduction of low-emission transport zones. All these measures collectively have been able to massively reduce local air pollution and often noise as well which has drastically improved residents’ quality of life.

Furthermore, these same actions have also been able to help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and, in many cases, save money as well! However, it was reported that these same cities have encountered a few roadblocks, specifically in areas such as engaging with citizens and making a strong and effective political case for measures for improving air quality. This is something important to note.

As we begin to re-shift back into day to day life, we need to make sure we’re more self-conscious about our impacts on the environment and how we are impacting the air quality. Even though our impact may not be big, we should still continue being aware of the little changes we are able to make. Using less energy at home or switching off things when you’re not using them are great ways to start doing your part in protecting the environment. Everything we can do to use less energy is a start to slowly achieving a more sustainable world, where we can still live and prosper.