Compared to many regions worldwide, Australia maintains a high standard of air quality. However, according to Environmental Justice Australia, about 5,000 people lose their lives every year due to exposure to air pollution. Not to mention, thousands of other individuals experience health complications like asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease. Key factors spiking air pollution in Australia include increased use of wood-burning heaters, growing population, bush fires, and dust storms.
Climate change is another aspect predicted to affect air quality significantly in the coming years. If carbon emissions are not reduced, summer smog or ozone is likely to increase after 2030. As a result, particulate matter in the atmosphere will increase, affecting human health and the environment. Read on to learn more about air pollution in Australia and tips to improve air quality, including ways to live environmentally-friendly lifestyles.
How harmful is air pollution in Australia
Lead, carbon monoxide, particulate matter(PM2.5 and PM10), ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide are some of the pollutants the population of Australia is exposed to. In most cases, these pollutants meet Australia’s air quality standards. However, ozone and particulate matter tend to exceed the country’s standards set for 24-hour exposure. This means particulate matter and ozone are Australia’s major air pollutants, with PM2.5 being the most dangerous to human health. PM2.5 are microscopic airborne particles that penetrate the human body when inhaled. Due to their small size, these particles enter the bloodstream and cause various health disorders like reduced lung function, asthma, heart disease, and stroke.
Causes of Australia’s air pollution
Like other countries, air pollution in Australia is caused by natural and artificial sources. Common sources of air pollution linked to human activities are industrial processes, combustion in car engines, wood-burning heaters, and power generation. It’s worth noting that domestic wood heating degrades air quality in homes significantly during the winter season. In fact, burning wood heaters contributes to 50 percent of indoor particulate matter pollution.
Other sources of indoor air pollution include household detergents, perfumes, fumes from burning tobacco, and toxic furniture coatings. All these products contain volatile organic compounds, which are emitted as a gas into the atmosphere. So, if you’re looking to maintain a high standard of air quality in your home or office, understanding how volatile organic compounds work and ways to combat them is crucial. When it comes to outdoor pollution, vehicles are significant contributors, as they produce large amounts of carbon monoxide. Natural causes of air pollution in Australia are wildfires and dust storms.
Ways to improve air quality
Improving air quality is a crucial step to take if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For instance, replacing chemical-based household cleaning products with greener options helps limit exposure to VOCs, thereby reducing respiratory allergies. Cycling and walking are excellent ways of lowering the rate of greenhouse gases emitted by cars. Other practical ways to enhance air quality include recycling and composting, choosing VOC-free furniture, using solar energy, and buying local products.
Australia’s air pollution causes an estimated 5,000 premature deaths annually and is associated with many health conditions like asthma, bronchitis, stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease. Luckily, you can reduce the impacts of air pollution by eliminating the use of VOC-based cleaning and personal care products. Choosing green transport like cycling also helps reduce particulate matter released in the atmosphere by vehicle emissions.