OSEA Safety Blog

The Air We Breathe

Friday, April 21, 2017 Michele Pratt

The Air We Breathe

In 1970 the EPA signed the Clean Air Act to assist in decreasing air pollutants and lead to improvements to human health and the environment. In 1990 this was amended to curb acid rain, urban air pollution, toxic air emissions and stratospheric ozone depletion. Over the last 40 years the U.S. population and economy has grown while the Clean Air Act has reduced pollution. Over this time the Gross Domestic Product has increase by 243%, Population has increased by 54% while Aggregate Emission have been reduced by 70%.

Polluted air can cause a variety of health concerns such as 30 million adults and children in the US are suffering from Asthma. The elderly and others with heart and respiratory diseases can have their conditions exacerbated by air pollution. Specific particulates such as benzene, or vinyl chloride release highly toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, long term conditions of the lungs as well as brain and nerve damage. In severe cases inhaling these chemicals can cause death.

Manufacturers are responsible for reporting their emissions and based on calculations of these fine particulates being released into the air require either a permit or a registration to their state environmental entity.

As a consumer, you can contribute to clean air by doing the following: ensure that your vehicle is running efficiently by using correct fuel and maintaining oil changes as recommended in your owner’s manual. If you use a wood burning stove or fireplace ensure you have an EPA-certified model; burn only “seasoned”, clean, dry wood and make sure to remove ashes and store outside away from the wood. Plant trees or fill your space with house plants to assist in clean air generation. Use air fresheners in moderation as they can breakdown the ozone or contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that can be harmful. If we make a conscious effort, we can all do our part in making our air a little cleaner.

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