What better time than Air Quality Awareness Week to give our lungs a break

Nowadays, considerable time and energy is devoted to combatting climate change and global warming directly — which is a good thing. At the same time, significant time and energy is spent on dealing with climate change/global warming fallout — and that isn’t.

Making worse those matters, it has been known for some time now that 99 percent of the world’s population is exposed to polluted air, whether daily, regularly or infrequently. Again, not a good thing.

So, what can be done really short-term to help remove some of that burden? And, what better time is there than Air Quality Awareness Week to do that as well as to discuss ways in which that can be done. A heads-up: Air Quality Awareness Week this year runs May 6 thru May 10.

First and foremost, any opportunity to not burn fossil fuels should be taken. I can’t emphasize this point enough. So, what steps then can be taken to help achieve that end-goal?

Though this may not be thought of as one option that immediately comes to mind, if you’re planning a driving-out-of-town trip that week, you might consider renting a plug-in hybrid (electric/gasoline) or a wholly electric vehicle, that is, if one is not already leased or owned. Such would also serve to afford users and additional occupants if applicable, the opportunity to test such a vehicle to see if purchase of one is in one’s future. Along the same lines, one might consider ditching the internal-combustion-engine-powered motor vehicle and requesting a hybrid or electric vehicle via ride-hailing — alternatively known as a taxi-type pick-up — service, that is, if available in your area. In the United States and in many countries throughout the world, charging infrastructure is now widely deployed.

Or, if you choose to forgo driving or vehicle use altogether, this might be a great opportunity to give rail-based public transit a try.

And, because weather and/or temperature is more conducive generally to embracing active modes like walking or biking this time of year, for example, these means of mobility could be relied on or relied upon more than say what might be done typically, otherwise.

Moreover, rejecting outright, outdoor barbecuing or if one has it within their means, to do any outdoor cooking by restricting such to gas-grilling only.

What about putting off by one week that routine exercise of mowing the lawn with the gas-powered lawnmower, and the typically piled-on-top power cleanup activities; you know, those done with gas-powered edger, leaf-blower, etc.?

Then there are the simpler measures that can be taken like remembering to turn off lights when not needed, setting the thermostat to a position where overuse of either heating or cooling is eliminated. Not to mention the suggestion that, if possible, to refrain from putting additional demand on the electric grid during times of heavy or heaviest usage, like, for instance doing a laundry load before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m when energy usage (both electricity and gas) is typically lower.

Each of these actions are fairly easy to initiate. The results of such immediate, and their impacts positive.

Of course, I have only provided a partial list. But, it just goes to show that if one takes steps to alter patterns of behavior meaning habits, really, and in doing so lessens or removes the burden on the air, not only do our lungs benefit by getting a much needed break in terms of that pollution 99 percent of the world’s population is exposed to — again, whether daily, regularly or infrequently — and whether this done for ourselves and with others in mind as well, we might just save some money while we’re at it. And, that, too, is a thing of good.

Corresponding, connected home-page-featured image: Carl-Johan Aberger

— Alan Kandel

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