A variety of measures has been undertaken or proposed and instituted to curb the effects of air pollution. Solving the air pollution problem requires joint effort and takes different ways from one region to another. For example, it primarily requires behavior change and institutionalization of measures that can considerably ameliorate the situation in the short-term and the long-term. Ordinarily, the solutions to air pollution have focused on establishing a mix of technological solutions, regulations and policies, and encouraging behavioral change.
Let’s have a look at some of the effective solutions to air pollution.
1. Cleaning Smokestacks and Exhaust Pipes
The leading sources of air pollution are power plants, factories, and vehicles. They constantly emit fumes and gaseous waste into the atmosphere. In power plants and manufacturing industries, electrostatic smoke precipitators that use static electricity to trap soot and dust from the gaseous waste leaving the smokestacks is a significant technological cleaning measure which can be used to control air pollution.
Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD), commonly referred to as scrubbing, is as well another means of providing a technical solution to Sulfur Oxide emissions. Scrubbing is a process that chemically eliminates the sulfur oxide gasses leaving the smokestacks. Power plans can also be retrofitted with carbon capturing technologies that trap emitted carbon dioxide.
Vehicles with gasoline powered engines are fitted with catalytic converters on the exhaust pipe to reduce the exhaust gas emissions. Constant improvements to gasoline that combusts cleaner and production of more energy efficient cars have been an additional strategy for reducing vehicle emissions. All these processes and methods are called emission reduction strategies.
2. Laws and Regulations
Some national and state or international policies can be used to control air pollution. Legislation and regulations always offer a fantastic measure for tackling the air pollution menace. Many cities and countries that were once heavily polluted have substantially attained clean air mainly due to the institutionalization of anti-pollution laws.
In England, for instance, following the 1952 smog tragedy that claimed thousands of lives in London, the government launched its Clean Air Act of 1956 which placed limits on burning coal and required industries to build higher smokestacks. In the United States, a series of Clean Air Acts have been passed to curb air pollution.
International cooperation and organizations such as the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and environmental programs have also devised clean air acts and directives to reduce air pollution. Examples include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Acts. A number of states and governing actions or policies can also be undertaken to reduce emissions. Quality air control protocols and standards such as the installation of pollution control devices or buying emission allowance can be used effectively as execution strategies for reducing the adverse effects of air pollution.
3. Use of Renewable or Green Energy Sources
Fossil fuel and coal are the main contributors to air pollution. Therefore, opting for alternative or renewable energy sources to produce power presents a practical solution to air pollution. Alternative energy sources include wind energy, geothermal energy, solar energy, and hydro-power. If people can harness a variety of these energy sources instead of relying on fossil fuels or coal energy, air pollution can reduce more than threefold.
Natural gas, fuel cells, and batteries can as well substitute the use of fossil fuels as cleaner energy sources. Still, it is important to evaluate correctly some of these alternative energy sources because aside from their benefits, some of them come with different environmental and economic costs. Essentially, investing more in renewable and sustainable energy sources reduces pollution at the same time protects the future.
4. Individual Level Prevention Methods
Multifarious ways can be used at the individual level to reduce or prevent air pollution. Foremost, individuals who are aware of the causes and effects of pollution can encourage family, friends, or colleagues to use the bus, train or bike when moving from one place to another. For shorter distances, it is even better just to walk or ride a bike. By doing so, there will be lesser vehicles on the road and as such, less emission.
Energy conservation by using energy wisely is also a viable individual measure for reducing air pollution. The logic here is that high amounts of fossil fuels are burned to produce the energy used for cooking, heating, or lighting. In this sense, saving energy cuts down air pollution. Another measure is re-using some of the utilities we depend on such as plastic bags, papers, or bottles because their production creates loads of pollution.
5. Raising Awareness Through Campaigns and Advocacy
As much as anti-pollution laws are established and technological advancements progressively aim at minimizing air pollution, it is not just enough. Awareness creation is the number one factor to consider because it will make people realize and understand the sources and effects of air pollution. From this point, it makes it easier for people to take personal or collective initiatives to reduce air pollution.
As previously witnessed, it takes serious tragedies to occur like the Chernobyl catastrophe for actions to be taken. Nevertheless, raising awareness through campaigns and advocacy can significantly address such situations from happening in the first place. It can simply be done through an educative process that helps people realize the causes and effects of air pollution. In any case, people contribute to air pollution in multiple ways without even knowing. By raising awareness, it can help minimize the causes of air pollution.