Unless my air is visible, I don’t think much about it. Out of sight, out of mind. What I know is this: No air, no life. How much air do I need? According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average adult breathes more than 3,000 gallons of air every day.
Now that I’m thinking about it, what is air anyway? What I remember from middle school science class (with a little help from Google) is this: Air is 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide and 0.003% other trace gases. Water vapor (also known as humidity) is also present in air, particularly evident on a hot August night in Florida. I suspect pine and oak pollen are also present.
What endangers our air quality most? Emissions from motor vehicles account for almost a third of the air pollution in the United States, so this month’s Easy Action list was created especially for drivers. Evidently, Floridians have places to go and people to see—13 million of us have a license to drive.
Whether we’re on the road, on the deck or on the couch, all of us can protect air quality. Here’s a starter pack:
Burn calories instead of fuel. Walk or bike to travel short distances. Sweep the deck or porch instead of using a leaf blower. Power plants burn fossil fuels to generate electricity. The less electricity I use, the better my air quality.
Save time, save energy, save money. During hot months, let your hair dry naturally. Hair driers use electricity and heat up the area where you’re primping, which causes the AC to work harder to cool the room.
Save fuel, save money, save the aggravation. Avoid the morning and afternoon rush hour traffic–telecommute when possible.
Take it. Take reusable bags shopping. It takes energy to make those one- or two-time-use bags. Saving energy helps protect air quality.
Leave it. Plant a tree or adopt a plant. Leaves absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to clean our air. Trees provide shade, another energy-saving feature.
Check it out. Find your air quality index at http://www.airnow.gov/.
We can’t decrease the amount of air we breathe, but we can easily decrease the amount of emissions we cause.