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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Five Tips to Improve Air Quality in Your City

Source:  euobserver.com
In the same month as the launch of the European Year of Air, cities such as Brussels or the massive city of Beijing faced major air pollution problems, registering alarming levels of particulate matter (PM).  It might seems like limiting exposure to pollutants is beyond the control of individuals.  But can citizens do anything to improve the air quality of their cities? 
Beijing registered the highest recorded levels of air pollution - 30-45 times above recommended safety limits - in January.  A thick cloud covered the city leading to emergency measures such as factory closures and flights cancellations.  In snowy Belgium, the smog led to reduction of speed limits and in some regions the bus was free.

Last week, Sustainability Consult attended a conference on 'Understanding the Health Effects of Air Pollution: Recent Advances to Inform EU Policies' co-organised by the European Commission, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and the Health Effects Institute (HEI).  This conference set out to inform policymakers and other regulators about improvements in data collection and the major effects of air pollution on health.

Air pollution, both indoors and out, causes major health problems.  According to the WHO, urban outdoor air pollution alone "is estimated to cause 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year" while indoor air pollution leads to 2 million deaths.  Improving air quality can help reduce respiratory infections, heart disease and even lung cancer.  While Europe and the US are debating these issues, European citizens can play a role in the revision of the European Strategy on Air Pollution by responding to the consultation on the strategy which is open until 4 March.

Regulators have an obligation to control air pollution, but individuals and their daily actions play a significant role on keeping the air safe.  What can you do to tackle this problem?  By following these simple tips you will contribute to the short- and long-term improvement of air quality in your city:

1. If possible don’t use your car: carpool, bike, use public transport, or if you need to use your car, watch your fuel economy while driving, keep tyres inflated and drive to minimise fuel use

2. Manage your heating and cooling: improve your home insulation, regulate your thermostat, service boilers and heating systems regularly

3. Save energy at home and at the office: turn off lights, change to energy-efficient light bulbs, turn off power, reduce paper consumption

4. Reduce waste, compost and recycle

5. Improve indoor air quality: reduce the number of sprays (which may contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs) you use and switch to mild cleaners that do not include artificial fragrances

Blog by Ana I. Catarino


  1. The information provided for healthy living improving indoor air quality along with the video is presented nicely. Thanks for sharing the information.

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