EarthSavers: Air

Clean air -- you can't see, smell, or taste it, but you sure can't live without it! Cars, factories, and electricity make our lives easier, but they also produce gasses and chemicals that pollute the air. Polluted air is bad for people to breathe, and it can harm animals, trees, and plants. And it doesn't just blow away -- the pollution can return to earth as acid rain.

Scientists are trying to think of ways to keep our air cleaner. But until they come up with a solution, it's up to us to live clean! Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent air pollution:

Plant a tree
Trees increase the amount of oxygen in the air, and they help clean the air by using up some of the pollutants we produce.

Turn out the lights
Many power plants make electricity by burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, and that creates air pollution. When you leave a room, turn out the lights. Less electricity will be used, less coal will get burned, and less pollution will be released into the air.

Keep a lid on the heat
Keep hot water use to a minimum -- it takes energy to heat it up. Instead of turning up the heat, put on a sweater or use an extra blanket. And ask your parents not to use the wood stove or fireplace when air pollution levels are high.

Don't crank up the cold
Air conditioners cause pollution too. They emit chemicals that can harm the ozone layer. Remember to turn yours down or off when you leave a room. And ask your parents to make sure the air conditioner's filter is cleaned regularly.

Not too far? Don't take the car!
If it's a short trip downtown or to a friend's house, don't ask for a ride. Instead, hop on your bike or walk. You'll be saving gas, and reducing air pollution from your car's exhaust.

Build a compost pile
Burning leaves produces pollutants that can harm your health. Instead, help your parents build a compost pile for leaves and other natural yard debris. An added benefit: As the compost biodegrades, it will create rich garden nutrients.

Tell 'em what you think
If you're concerned about how air pollution is affecting your family, write a letter to your city councilor, mayor, or local newspaper. Tell them what you're doing to help keep the earth clean, and ask for their help.

Source: The EPA Student Center

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