Climate Change Impacts Air Quality
Story: Jaylene Matias
Changes in climate can result in changes in air quality.
Atmospheric warming, which is associated with climate change, has the potential to increase the ground-level ozone in most regions and that will possibly create problems for the ozone standards in the near future.
With global warming on the rise, the quality of the air that we breathe is significantly decreasing. This is a huge risk to human health because warmer temperatures cause an increase in allergens and harmful air pollutants. What this means is that there will be more allergy sensitizations and asthma attacks and can decrease the amount of production work and school days we will have.
Decreased air quality can lead to an increase in premature deaths and an increase in respiratory, cardiovascular, and lung illnesses.
Pre-existing medical conditions may be exacerbated and people who have asthma, senior citizens, children, and anyone who is immunocompromised are amongst the most vulnerable to decreased air quality.
The lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures increase the risk of drought and wildfires and both create particle pollution. There may also be an increase in dust storms as soil dries up.
In order to protect human health and safety there are a number of steps needed to be taken. To decrease negative effects on our climate the best step would be to reduce the release of heat-trapping gases like CO2. This will not only positively affect our climate but our health and well-being as well.
Our communities should not be vulnerable to current climate change conditions. According to the CDC, many communities are already addressing climate-sensitive health issues in hopes of managing the health threats that are associated with air quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (Airnow.gov) is one tool that can be used to manage health threats. It actually helps the Public learn when the air quality in their area has already reached or is likely to reach unhealthy levels. The air quality index is shared online, through local TV stations, radio programs, and newspapers.
Transportation alternatives, along with reducing the number of miles a vehicle has driven and its use will help to improve air quality. Transportation alternatives can lower emission levels and pollutants that are associated with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Reducing electricity use can lower exposure to heavy metals that are extremely harmful such as lead, mercury, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.