Most of us could survive for weeks without food and a few days without water, yet we spend hours debating over organic or conventionally grown, filtered or unfiltered. But the one thing no one can live without for more than a few minutes is air — and we spend very little time wondering whether or not the air around us is safe to breathe.
Tiny pollution particles enter our lungs and bloodstreams daily, as evidenced by higher rates of diseases like asthma, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s in people who live near freeways, airports and power plants or in valleys, where pollution can become trapped. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, about 92 percent of the world’s population lived in areas that did not meet basic air-quality standards as of 2014.
How high is your exposure risk? Let’s take a look at how location affects exposure. If you live in higher-risk areas, think about learning how you can help your local government promote cleaner transportation options, sustainable energy generation and solid-waste reduction. Your lungs, your neighbors and Mother Earth will thank you.