Easy ways to reduce air pollution

When compared to water pollution, air pollution tends to take a backseat. While each issue is equally important, it's easy to forget the prevalence of air pollution. After all, unless you live in a city, the air above your head probably looks as healthy as ever. And one doesn't go jumping into dirty air the same way you might in a dirty ocean or lake, so the issue of air pollution might not resonate as much.

Unfortunately, air pollution is still a prevalent issue, whether you live in a city with millions of other people or reside on a countryside farm where the nearest neighbor is a mile away. Regardless of where you live, what you do can greatly impact the quality of the air you breathe. Here are a few simple steps that will ensure you're making a positive impact on the air up there.

• Turn the lights off: Believe it or not, most people leave extra lights on throughout their home. This is both bad for the environment and bad for the utility bill. Turn the lights off in rooms you're not using, and put a dim light bulb in any exterior lights you keep on overnight.

• Properly dispose of household items: Solvents, pesticides and household paints can damage the air thanks to their chemical composition. Whenever disposing of such products, due so in accordance to all local laws. In addition, when storing these products, make sure they're properly sealed in airtight containers.

• Call the repair man: Leaky air conditioners and refrigeration systems can send harmful gases into the sky. Have all such appliances examined for leaks once a year, and don't procrastinate in cases where a call to the repair center is necessary.

You can also learn to do your own ÒrepairsÓ that will help the environment as well. For example, check filters on all air conditioners around the house. A dirty filter will require the air conditioner to work harder to cool a room, causing you to turn the A/C up and, in so doing, increasing your energy bill. By checking and cleaning the filter, you'll reduce the emissions your A/C is sending out into the air while also reducing your bill.

• Show some tolerance when it's hot or cold: Turning on the air conditioner or heater doesn't improve air quality. Unless the temperature absolutely calls for it, avoid turning on the A/C by opening some windows and keep the heater at a lower temperature while throwing on a sweater.

• Recycle: While it's hard to believe in the 21st century, many households still don't recycle. During the production of items such as plastics, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans, harmful emissions are produced and sent into the air. By recycling, fewer of these items need to be produced, and that will lessen the damage done to the air.

• Carpool to work: With the ever-increasing prices of fuel, carpooling to work has never seemed such an attractive option. Not only will you help the pocketbook by sharing the weekly gas tab with at least one other person, but you'll substantially decrease the amount of harmful emissions vehicles send into the air each day. If you carpool with three other people who are all used to driving to work in their own cars, you've cut the amount of emissions the four of you would normally produce by 75 percent.

• Take care of your car: Several things impact how efficiently a vehicle will burn fuel. Tires that aren't properly inflated, a dirty air filter and even your own driving habits can have a negative impact on the efficiency of a vehicle. Rapidly accelerating burns more fuel, as does a lot of stop- and-go driving. A dirty air filter makes the car work harder and reduces fuel efficiency, as do poorly inflated tires. Keep up with all manufacturer guidelines.To learn more about reducing air pollution, visit the Environmental Protection Agency Web site at (MS)