Unique ways to deal with China's air pollution
How to Reduce Smog
Smog is a form of air pollution that is produced in the atmosphere when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides and at least one volatile organic compound (VOC). When this reaction occurs, particles are released into the atmosphere, and oxygen at the ground level absorbs harmful compounds (ozone).All of this creates what we consider smog. Recent years have seen an increase in campaigns for the reduction of smog due to its harmful effects towards both humans and the environment.
Changing Your Car Habits
Drive less.Vehicles that run only on gasoline produce nitrogen dioxide as a byproduct of driving and idling, so one easy way to cut back on emissions is to drive less. Try walking, biking, or taking public transit instead.
- If your location is close enough, try walking or biking, especially if the destination has showers for clean up (workplace, gym, etc.).
- Many large cities offer public transportation such as buses, subways, trains and "park and ride" which allows you to park your vehicle and take public transit to your destination.
- Don't drive during certain times. For example, drive less during peak traffic periods, when it is extremely hot, or when there are ozone warnings in effect. This is because gas fumes turn into harmful ground level ozone when they heat up.
- If driving is a necessity, try setting up a carpool so there are fewer cars on the road and fewer trips being made.
Maintain your car.Keeping your car "healthy" will not only improve mileage and save money, it can also reduce emissions. Get regular tune-ups and oil changes and make sure your tires are properly inflated to ensure your car is functioning at its best.
- Many states require smog and emission tests to make sure your car isn't emitting too much pollution. These are usually required annually or bi-annually.
- Inflating your tires to the correct pressure allows the engine to function better by maintaining a steady load.
- Consult your mechanic or your owner's manual for specific information regarding maintenance for your vehicle.
Fuel up in cooler temperatures.Pump gas early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures drop. This prevents the fumes from gasoline from heating up and creating harmful toxins at ground level (ozone).
- There are alternative fuel sources that are in the works such as ethanol, natural gas, and hydrogen, but not all engines can function off of these fuel sources.
Purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle.These vehicles have been known to dramatically reduce emissions for many reasons (depending on the type of model). Some decrease the consumption of fuel while others do away with fuel altogether. The result is a reduction in tailpipe emissions and therefore a reduction in smog.
- Hybrid vehicles are fueled by gasoline alone but have the ability to recapture energy and use it to power the car, resulting in less fuel consumption.
- Electric vehicles are powered by electricity alone and must be plugged in and charged in order to drive.
- Plug-in hybrids are the best of both worlds, running off of either electricity or gasoline.
Changing Your Consumption Habits
Avoid high VOC products.VOCs are chemicals that easily escape into the atmosphere through common use around the house. Check the front label of household products to determine if they contain VOCs.
- Examples of common products include nail care products (acetone, ethyl alcohol), paint strippers or adhesive removers (methylene chloride), and aerosol spray products (butane).
- Check the National Institute of Health's Household Products Database for more information about specific products and their ingredients.
- Shop for "green" products that don't contain VOCs.
- If you must use VOC products, buy in small quantities that can be used quickly instead of stored. If you must store the product, do so in a tightly sealed, original container, in a well-ventilated area.
Avoid gas-powered yard equipment.Gasoline emissions are one of the major causes of smog--whether from vehicles or lawn equipment. Try eco-friendly lawn mowers, hedgers, trimmers, or any other lawn equipment that can be powered electrically.
- You can also avoid mowing altogether by changing the material in your yard. Opt for artificial grass, succulents, hard landscapes, or rock gardens to do away with mowing forever.This will also save you time and money spent on maintenance and watering.
- There are also "real grass alternatives" that look and act like traditional grass turf, but require less maintenance.
Buy local.When you buy products that are made locally, it cuts down on the cost of transport which reduces emissions. Local farmers' markets and grocery stores can help you determine where items were produced.
- There are many sites online that link local buyers and sellers such as Direct Local Food, GrowBuyEat, and AgLocal.
- Besides farmers' markets, try local farmers' stands, farms, and wineries.
- There are even many restaurants that are joining the movement towards supporting locally grown items.
- Make a community garden. Grow vegetables and fruit for your community and local distribution.
Be energy efficient in your home.The less energy you consume at home, the less pollutants that are released into the atmosphere. There are many ways to decrease energy consumption including through lighting, heating and cooling, and appliance use.
- Replace your old incandescent light bulbs with energy saving halogen incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs which can be found at your local hardware store.
- For heating and cooling try energy-saving thermostats that automatically reset temperatures while you're away from home.
- Shop for energy-efficient appliances that use less energy such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers.
Taking a Stand
Don't support organizations that have poor environmental practices.By not supporting commerce from these companies, you raise awareness of the problem. For example, companies like Nestle, Pfizer, and Walmart have been known to not only add pollution to the air but to also violate pollution regulations.
- An app such as Buycott can help you identify products and companies with poor environmental track records, simply by scanning a product's barcode.
Promote your stance.Don't be afraid to tell people your opinion on the issue, and what you are doing to help solve it. You can do this by speaking to those closest to you (family, friends, co-workers) or reach more people through social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).
- Start a community project such as an initiative to replace light bulbs or a carpool to a farmer's market once a month.
- Start a carpool with your co-workers. Not only will it cut down on emissions but it will demonstrate your passion for the cause.
Contact local politicians and business leaders.Ask them for information about what they are doing to reduce smog levels in your community. If they do not reply or reply with inadequate measures, consider lobbying for change.
- Sign a petition. There are many petitions online that are lobbying for better air quality control by our government. Find one that peaks your interest, or start your own.
- Try sites like change.org or petitions.whitehouse.gov to look for petitions or start one on a smaller, local level.
QuestionHow can I find information relate to smog?
M.A. in Environmental Science and ManagementM.A. in Environmental Science and ManagementExpert AnswerStart with a quick internet search, which will provide you with plenty of information about smog. Make sure that you check your sources, since there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. The best sources are published articles from newspapers or journals, as well as reputable science and university websites.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I find out more information for my science project about different countries trying to eliminate pollution?
M.A. in Environmental Science and ManagementM.A. in Environmental Science and ManagementExpert AnswerStart with a quick internet search, which should give you information on each countries' pollution initiatives. It's important to check the quality of your sources, since there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. The best information comes from published articles in newspapers and journals, as well as reputable science and university websites. However, it's best to avoid blogs.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I take care of the air of the environment?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to help people reduce smoking. This one of the major pollutants or air pollution. If smokers decrease, air pollution decreases, and air quality increases.Thanks!
QuestionCan you give some easy measures to prevent smog?Top AnswererIf there were easy measures, we wouldn't see smog in most big cities today. As long as we continue to burn fossil fuels, we will see smog around us.Thanks!
- Encourage your local community to undertake smog initiatives. One can only make a small change alone; many together can make much bigger changes.
- Donate money to communities in developing countries to help them improve their smog reduction initiatives. This includes funding methods that reduce use of solid fuel heating and cooking which causes both smog and health problems for many millions of people.
Video: Spare the Air Minute Episode 3: How You Can Help Reduce Smog
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