Learn About Gas and Air Quality

Understanding the connections between burning gas, air quality, public health, and climate change is important as we consider the effects of greenhouse gases. 

Most air pollution, the release of pollutants into the air that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole, comes from energy use and production. Burning fossil fuels releases gases and chemicals into the air. According to the EPA, carbon dioxide is responsible for 81 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and methane makes up 10 percent. The U.S. emits far larger amounts of carbon dioxide, but methane is significantly more potent, so it’s also very destructive. The greenhouse effect is the warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat. By trapping the earth’s heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases lead to warmer temperatures and all the hallmarks of climate change: rising sea levels, more extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and increasing transmission of infectious diseases like Lyme. 

How to Protect Your Health

  • Generally, ozone levels tend to be lower in the morning.
  • When you do exercise outside, stay as far as you can from heavily trafficked roads. Then shower and wash your clothes to remove fine particles.
  • If the air quality is bad, stay inside with windows closed.
  • Wear sunscreen. When ultraviolet radiation comes through the weakened ozone layer, it can cause skin damage and skin cancer.

How to Help Reduce Air Pollution

The less gasoline we burn, the better we’re doing to reduce air pollution and harmful effects of climate change. 

  • Make good choices about transportation. When you can, walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation. For driving, choose cars that get better miles per gallon of gas or choose an electric car. 
  • Investigate your power provider options—you may be able to request that your electricity be supplied by wind or solar. 
  • Buying your food locally cuts down on the fossil fuels burned in trucking or flying food from across the country. 
  • And perhaps most important, support leaders who push for clean air and water and responsible steps on climate change.

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