Sustainability Superheroes blog
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Keeping our air clean is equally important for human health and the planet. According to EarthDay.org, harmful particles and chemicals have been infiltrating the air and continue to increase each year. This leads to serious health issues in the long term and has even caused millions of premature deaths throughout the world. This occurrence has also resulted in biodiversity loss and climate change. What exactly is causing these problems?
PM2.5 is a fine, particulate matter that enters the air due to things like dust and vehicle exhaust. At high levels, this creates a hazy appearance in the air. The bigger issue is that PM2.5 can travel very far across borders and regions. Clean air is declining overall, which poses a great threat to humans and the environment. However, there have been some recent improvements of air quality.
A Pandemic Mitigating Air Pollution
With people worldwide social distancing and staying at home due to COVID-19, there has actually been an increase in cleaner air. Forbes Magazine reported on a study by Stanford scientist, Earth Systems Professor Marshall Burke. He stated that the worldwide lockdown may have saved more lives from air pollution than from the virus, especially with the decrease of air pollution in Wuhan, China. Moreover, Burke estimated that the decrease in PM2.5 may have saved 77,000 lives.
Scientists have estimated that over 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year from air pollution. Data from the the World Health Organization shows that 9/10 people breathe high levels of pollutants from the air and that air pollution kills 7 million people each year.
Here's What You Can Do
Earthday.org challenges everyone to become a citizen scientist and be part of the movement to improve air quality and save lives!
First, download the Earth Challenge 2020 app, available here in the Apple app store and Google Play store. Take a photo outside and test your air quality, while learning about air pollution. You can even track air quality worldwide using the Citizen Science Air Quality Monitor. Also, sign the petition to demand that the United Nations prioritizes climate change and air pollution in the app!