The Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, provided some frightening statistics about the health effects of air pollution. In their article, “Asthma and Air Pollution” (1), transportation is said to be one of the main causes of asthma attacks.
Here are some of the statistics:
- About 20 million people have asthma
- Asthma attacks kill 5,000 people in the United States every year
- Asthma keeps kids out of school for a total of 14 million school days each year and keeps adults out of work for 12 million work days
- There is no cure for asthma
What’s even more frightening is some studies have suggested that pollution may actually be causing healthy people to develop asthma. Over half of the nation’s population lives in areas with bad air.
Transportation, factories and power plants are the main contributors to this devastating phenomenon. Fortunately, there are things that these industries can do to help clear the air.
Stricter air quality standards would encourage the use and research of alternative fuels, specifically for the transportation industry. In addition, we can cut down on emissions of NOx and other chemicals by putting more fuel-efficient cars and trucks on the road.
With that being said, air quality has in fact been improving over the last several years. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of people that continue to be at risk. Solar technology is said to be the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. According to the Sierra Club National (2), the country’s largest grassroots movement for improving our planet, solar technology allows us to capture the sun’s energy in two principal ways:
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight directly into electricity. As light passes through the panels, it creates a current that generates electricity. The light (photons) are converted to electricity (voltage) and this is what we call the photovoltaic effect.
- Solar thermal systems can also use the sun’s heat to produce energy at a central power plant using mirrors and receivers. This heat can then be used to produce electricity.
- Alternative forms of energy provide us with a solution to clean the air we breathe and overall improve our wellbeing. Solar technology is proving to be a powerful force as the leader of this movement.
1) “Asthma and Air Pollution.” Natural Resources Defense Council NRDC. Web. 12 Aug. 2013. <http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/fasthma.asp
2) “Solar | Beyond Coal.” Sierra Club National. Web. 21 Aug. 2013. <http://content.sierraclub.org/coal/solar>.