Banana Leaf

Air Quality: Crashing and Burning

By: Sanjana Kulkarni and Oliver Malkowski

The Importance of Air Quality

“Air quality” refers to the condition of the air within our surroundings. Good air quality pertains to the degree to which the air is clean, clear, and free from pollutants. So why should we as a population care about our air quality? When we breathe polluted air, pollutants get into our lungs; they can enter the bloodstream and be carried to our internal organs such as the brain. This can cause severe health problems such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer and reduces the quality and number of years of life.

What’s Fanning the Flames?

While there have been some instances of wildfires in Australia this year, the California Wildfires are much worse in terms of air quality. We need to first explore the cause of these wildfires. Experts say that climate change is the driving cause. However, another major cause of the fires is excess fuel, which allows them to grow so big so quickly. This “excess fuel” comes from the vegetation itself! In California, the vegetation spends much of the summer slowly drying out because of a lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures. That vegetation then serves as kindling for fires. Now that the root causes of these wildfires have been explained, how are they affecting our environment?

Why Should We Change?

Our air quality was at its peak in the 20th century and has only gone downhill from there. In order to provide for our children and generations to come, it is our humane duty to care about and preserve not only our environment but specifically our air quality. Every year 200,000 Americans alone die from air pollution levels that are below the United States Environmental Protection Agencies' recommendation. Anywhere from 90,000-360,000 more die from levels above the regulation. If these numbers are so high, why are we as a nation not aiming to lower them? As responsible citizens what are we going to do today?

Comment below to share your ideas on measures to protect our future generations!

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