Many of us know that air pollution is a growing public health emergency. Images of deadly smog that descend on cities all over the world, from Beijing to Delhi, Los Angeles to Seoul, are hard to ignore.
This emergency shouldn’t be overlooked. Already, many initiatives are taken by global organizations to tackle this issue but more needs to be done. 9 out of 10 people are breathing polluted air and you shouldn’t feel safe either if you live in the countryside: some pollutants, like dust, PM2.5, and others, can travel cross-country (like the 2020 wildfires in California that affected its neighbouring states) and cross-continent (like how the 2019 Indonesian forest burning reached as far as India and Japan).
According to the WHO, almost 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution. And, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution indoors can be 5 times worse than outdoors!
So What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
1. Check forecast levels
Check daily air pollution levels in your area. The colour-coded forecasts can let you know when the air is unhealthy in your community. Sources include local radio and TV weather reports, newspapers and online (private institutions like IQAir or public like the government, e.g. Ministry of Environment data).
2. Avoid exercising
Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high (AQI>60). When the air is bad, walk indoors in a shopping mall or gym or use an exercise machine. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors too.
3. Avoid high-traffic areas
highways, busy intersections, garage, etc… are notorious for having bad air quality levels due to the exhaust fumes. Always avoid exercising near these areas. Even when air quality forecasts are green, the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one-third a mile away.
4. Energy efficiency
Use less energy in your home. Generating electricity and other sources of energy creates air pollution. By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage energy independence and save money!
5. Walk, bike, or carpool
Combine trips. Use buses, subways, light rail systems, commuter trains or other alternatives to driving your car. If you have to drive, try to go green and use electric-hybrid cars that run less on gasoline. Even better, drive with friends to reduce carbon footprint per person!
6. Dispose of trash responsibly
Don’t burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the major sources of particle pollution (soot) in many parts of the country.
7. Use greener tools
Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment (e.g. to cut grass) rather than gasoline-powered. Old engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars.
8. Engage with your community
Tell your kid’s school to use eco-friendly school buses. Get your taxis to turn off instead of idling if there are no customers. Get more places to ban outdoor smoking around their establishments. Create air quality campaigns to educate your community members the dangerous effect of bad air.
PiCO Home is our flagship smart home device that measures the air quality around you to keep you safe. In addition to humidity, VOCs, carbon dioxide, and the temperature, it also measures PM 2.5 and PM 10, our air quality levels. The mobile app informs you when pollution levels are bad, thus playing a crucial role to help you protect yourself from unhealthy air!