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A Vicious Cycle That Can Be Stopped: Air Pollution and Global Warming

A busy street in Tel Aviv: Traffic and construction are two of the biggest contributors to air pollution.  Photo by Emily Taubenblatt Busy Street in Tel Aviv: Traffic and construction are two of the biggest contributors to air pollution. Photo by Emily Taubenblatt

In the last 20 years, we have had some of the hottest years on record, 14 to be exact. The weather has also been doing some strange things, and there is evidence of ice caps melting and sea levels rising. All this is evidence of global warming, also known as global climate change. The composition of the earth’s atmosphere is changing and the increase in greenhouse gasses is causing changes in weather, climate, and other things. In addition to the threats to our ecosystem, ozone and particulate matter (the two main contributors to global warming) pose a major health risk to the population. We at BreezoMeter want to inform the public about these pollutants in hopes of raising awareness and public health.
Ozone is a greenhouse gas that contributes to health problems and climate change. In the upper atmosphere, it protects us from harmful UV rays, but too much adds to global warming. In turn, the effects of global warming increase the levels of ozone in the air, which contributes to air pollution. So it is a positive feedback loop of ever increasing bad air days and global temperatures (Environmental Protection Agency). On the surface, ozone is a harmful pollutant, commonly known as smog. It forms when products of combustion (NOx and CO) interact with sunlight, and concentrations increase in warmer temperatures (American Lung Association). High levels of ozone can lead to various health problems including asthma, lung inflammation, and other respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. You can minimize your risks to these health problems by minimizing your exposure to ozone, and BreezoMeter’s app is dedicated to helping you do just that!
Another contributor to climate change is particulate matter or particle pollution. It can best be described as a “mixture of mixtures” and can come from a variety of sources including dust storms, construction sites, and combustion of fossil fuels (American Lung Association). Particle pollution increases snowmelt and affects cloud activity, which in turn affects global warming (Environmental Protection Agency). Global warming also causes more particulate matter to remain in the air—another positive feedback loop. Particle pollution causes a wide range of health problems. It can exacerbate allergies in the form of hay fever, increase instances of asthma, cause strokes, heart attacks, and other respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and even lead to cancer (American Lung Association). By using BreezoMeter’s app, you can determine how to avoid exposure to harmful pollutants such as particle pollution, therefore reducing your health risks.
The relationship between air pollution and global warming is a vicious cycle. Increases in ozone and particulate matter raise the global temperatures, and higher temperatures cause more pollutants to hang in the air. Higher temperatures also lead to more pollutants entering the air overall, due to human activity. When we increase our use of air conditioners because it’s too hot, the increased electricity use leads to more pollution (Environmental Protection Agency). And driving our cars more results in more pollutants that contribute to smog. The solution has to start with us in finding cleaner sources of fuel and cleaner ways to live our daily lives.
Why does it matter, you might be wondering. Well, in addition to the myriad of health problems that air pollution and global warming cause, the environment and society we have grown accustomed to will be affected. Global warming causes more wildfires, which both destroy habitats and increase air pollution and haze (Responding to Climate Change). Global climate change also causes an increase in storms and heat waves, affecting our quality of life. The changing climate will also affect the growth of crops and subsequent food supply. It is important to take action now to reduce the air pollution that affects global warming to prevent health problems and environmental damage.
The simplest action we can take is to reduce our emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions (including ozone and particulate matter) come from the burning of fossil fuels, especially in cars. Reducing use of cars will reduce local air pollution and help slow down the process of global warming. Reducing other forms of combustion, such as in coal power plants, would also make a big difference, but this requires the work of whole societies, not just individuals. Taking these actions will lead to a decrease in smog, fewer wildfires, and a healthier population in the future. In the meantime, using BreezoMeter to avoid smog and other air pollution will help keep you and your family safe!

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