Breathless Nation: Unmasking the Invisible Enemy of Air Pollution in the USA

US air pollution

Air pollution Defined

There’s nothing like being able to breathe a breath of clean air, but how clean is it? Unless you’re a scientist with a chemistry lab at your fingertips, there’s no real way to know. The gases you inhale could slowly kill you. According to the World Health Organization, around two million people die prematurely from the effects of pollution.

Air pollution is a major problem because global warming and damage to the ozone layer can affect us all.

What is air pollution

Generally speaking, air is almost entirely composed of two gases (78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen), with a few others (such as carbon dioxide and argon) present in absolutely trace amounts. According to these figures, we can therefore breathe ordinary air all day without harmful effects.

Air pollution is said to occur when the percentage of one of the harmful gases increases significantly. Air pollution would therefore be a gas (or a liquid or a solid dispersed in ordinary air) released in sufficient quantity to harm the health of living beings. As with water pollution and soil contamination, it is the amount (or concentration) of a chemical in the air that determines the degree of pollution.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), for example, is present in the air at a concentration of less than 0.55%, and breathing it generally does not harm; but air composed of an extremely high concentration of CO2 (5 to 10%) is toxic. The Earth’s atmosphere is turbulent, so air pollution disperses quite quickly.

In earlier times, factory operators believed that if they built chimneys very high, the wind would naturally blow away and dilute the gas emanating from the flues. The problem is that the Earth is a much smaller place than we think and pollution doesn’t always go away that easily.

In our time, where industrialization is gaining momentum and does not seem to stop developing, air pollution has become a very concrete phenomenon. More in-depth studies are being carried out, measures are being taken, but unfortunately it appears that these efforts are not bearing the expected results.

The reason is simple, we tend to pollute more than to make efforts to improve the quality of the air we breathe every day. It is with this in mind that the geoengineering movement works.

What the federal government is doing to fight air pollution

The federal government of the United States has implemented various measures to combat air pollution, recognizing its detrimental effects on public health, the environment, and the economy. One significant initiative is the Clean Air Act, initially enacted in 1970 and subsequently amended, which empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate and set standards for air quality across the nation. Under this act, the EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead.

Federal agencies collaborate with state and local governments to enforce these regulations and implement pollution control programs to improve air quality. The EPA provides grants, technical assistance, and guidance to support state and local efforts in monitoring air quality, developing emission reduction strategies, and enforcing compliance with environmental regulations.

The federal government invests in research and development to advance clean air technologies and alternative energy sources. Initiatives such as the Clean Air Research Program and partnerships with academic institutions and private industries contribute to innovations aimed at reducing emissions from vehicles, industrial processes, and power plants.

Through these efforts, the federal government strives to mitigate air pollution and safeguard the health and well-being of all American citizens while fostering sustainable economic growth and environmental stewardship.