Air quality refers to the condition of air within our surroundings. However, the quality of air on Earth has been worsening due to a considerable amount of air pollutants that are being released in the Earth’s atmosphere every day.
If we do not want our planet to end up being destroyed by air pollutants, we need to take some serious actions. In this article, we introduce you to some means which can help to improve air quality.
1. Efficient Engines and Catalytic Converters
Advances in technology have made modern cars’ engines more efficient and sustainable than those in older cars. These fuel-efficient vehicles produce a lower amount of greenhouse gas emissions which can help to protect the environment.
Since 1975, every vehicle manufactured in the United States is required to be fitted with a catalytic converter. What is a catalytic converter? It is an exhaust emission control device located on the bottom of your car, just behind the engine, and is responsible for controlling harmful pollutants produced by the vehicle. Catalytic converters were first created in the 19th century in France.
In essence, the exhaust gases travel through a metal tunnel-like structure with a large surface area that is coated with a thin layer of platinum. It acts as a catalyst and speeds up chemical reactions which convert air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide to less harmful gases.
2. Cleaner Fuels
A clean fuel produces lower emission rates and can decrease air pollution and improve citizens’ quality of life. These include biofuel, a type of fuel developed from biomass – plant or animal waste. It is considered a renewable source as it can be used repeatedly without running out. Hydrogen is also regarded as a clean fuel as when used in a fuel cell, the only product released is water. Therefore, hydrogen-fuelled cars are being encouraged as they are pollution-free and do not emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other particulates in the atmosphere.
Moreover, before natural gas is used for power stations and domestic heating, sulphur compounds can be removed from it. And, now even low sulphur petrol is available which help in reducing sulphur dioxide in waste gases.
3. Reducing Air Pollutants From Power Stations
Did you know that sulphur dioxide is a colourless and harmful gas with a robust choking odour that can cause acid rain?
Fossil fuels often contain impurities which have sulphur and when these fuels are burnt in power stations, sulphur dioxide is produced. As a result, when this gas escapes in the atmosphere and reacts with water, oxygen and other chemicals, leading to acid rain.
However, there is a possible solution: the sulphur dioxide can be removed before the waste gas escapes from the power station chimneys.
For instance, when the waste gas passes through a mixture of powdered lime and water, the sulphur dioxide in the gas reacts with this mixture and oxygen in the air to form a new non-toxic chemical compound called calcium sulphate which prevents the sulphur dioxide from being released in the atmosphere.
Governments can encourage people to live a more sustainable life and decrease air pollution production through financial incentives such as taxes.
For instance, usually, bigger cars with bigger engines tend to produce more air pollutants and increase the level of air pollution in the atmosphere. Hence, a car tax is introduced so as owners of these bigger cars could pay a higher vehicle excise duty.
Secondly, there is a fuel duty which is a sales tax on fuel. This is a strategy used by the State to discourage people from using their vehicles and also to motivate people to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.
5. Government’s Rules and Regulations
A practical method that will undoubtedly reduce air pollution and increase the air quality is through the laws passed in a country.
For instance, starting in 1845, a limit was put on the amount of smoke that can be released by steam train engines while in 1847 a regulation was passed to reduce the amount of smoke that factories could produce. Moreover, the ‘Clean Air Act’ was implemented to regulate air emissions and to introduce smokeless zones in cities.
Do you have other ideas on how we could improve our quality of air? Please share your thoughts with us!