Myth vs. Fact

Understandably, many of us are unclear on the things we do to pollute the air. This could partially be because of myths,that most of us have believed for years, have gone uncorrected. As LIFE ambassadors, we want there to be clarity on the issue of air pollution that our community faces. Therefore, we have composed some myths and facts we would like to share with you…

Myth #1 – China has the world’s worst air pollution

Most of us are used to seeing news stories of the poor air quality that big Chinese cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, face. However, people sometimes underestimate the drastic effect other disasters around the world affect air quality. For instance, due to the impact of wildfires, the air quality in Seattle in August 2018 was reported as being 5 times worse than in Beijing. With wildfires seeming to be becoming a norm, the quality of air the future generations will breathe is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Myth #2 – Air pollution is only present if you can see it

This is an easy mistake to make – when you think about it, you know food is bad if you see mold on it. Or that water is contaminated when it looks dirty but unfortunately identifying air pollution is not this simple. Even smoke or smog can contain microscopic or invisible particles which are undetectable to the human eye. Microscopic glasses like ozone and carbon monoxide, which can put people at serious risk, can’t even be seen.

Myth #3 – The air quality is always better indoors than outdoors

Because you can visibly see smoke leaving cars and factories outdoors, it seems obvious that the air quality would be far better indoors. However, the concentration levels of pollutants in an enclosed space, like our homes, are often not taken into consideration. Based on their studies assessing indoor concentrations of airborne chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that the air quality inside could be between two to five times worse than outside. In some indoor spaces, the quality of air is ten times worse than outside! Since we spend most of our time indoors, this is incredibly concerning.

Myth #4 – The quality of the air in rural areas is always better than in cities

Although, the air quality in the countryside usually seems much better than in the city, studies show that this isn’t necessarily always the case. A study that took place in the USA, compared the air qualities between major US cities and the air quality in their 33 largest national parks. Their findings show that air pollution drifts from cities out into rural areas so the air quality in these national parks, which are all miles away from any cities, is equally as bad, or sometimes even worse than the air quality in cities. This shows that no matter where you are in the world, you will be impacted by air pollution and air quality.

Myth #5 – There is not much you can individually do about air pollution

A study published in 2018 has shown that almost half of airborne chemicals that pollute our homes come from products that many of us use on a daily basis, such as perfumes, household cleaners and pesticides. These personal care products contribute to the increasing severity of the quality of the air we breathe almost as much as cars. Cutting down on these products can make a drastic difference to the air around us, which is why the LIFE Ambassadors have been promoting the use of a roll on deodorant, rather than an aerosol, a simple and effective way to make a difference. As well as this, reducing our use of cars by using public transport, walking or riding a bike instead is also extremely effective, which is why we encourage our peers to think about the impact their travel to school has on the environment.

The air we breathe is an essential part of our day-to-day lives, and the choices we make affect not only ourselves, but our community and the future generations. We hope this post has encouraged you to reconsider the things you do which negatively impact the air we breathe.

Eleanor

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