20 Myths About Air Pollution
Climate change and all the science for, against, or unclear on the topic can be very confusing and is often a source of conflict and division. However, the one thing everyone can agree on is that we all would like to breathe clean air. But for all its good intentions, that can be a heated debate as well. So what is a well-intentioned person to do? Getting both sides of the argument can be essential to not only making a decision but holding your own in an argument.
To help “clear the air,” we have collected 20 myths about air pollution making their way across the information spectrum. While some are put forth by bloggers with a passion for the topic, others are submitted by actual and accredited scientists. As always, it is up to you the reader to learn as much as you can and arrive at your own decision, hopefully a tad better informed than when you went in.
Myths About Worse Air Pollution
Feel that more regulations and laws need to be passed regarding air pollution? Then the below are good arguments for it.
- Air Pollution is Getting Worse
Climate of our Future is a blog where a discussion on climate change is shared. Deborah is from the San Joaquin Valley of California, where she has seen air pollution get worse in her lifetime. She cites examples of children being forced to play in door and asthma statistics as support. There is also an excerpt from Climate.org.
- US Air Quality Getting Worse, Not Better
But what about overseas? Fair Home, which is based in the UK, quotes from the American Lung Association that the state of the air has roughly 60 percent of the American population living in areas that contain highly polluted air. The same report also mentioned that these areas not only hurt the residents but are also high contributors to global warming. Worsening things is that 16 of the 25 cities to make the top of the list have worse air conditions than the previous year, meaning air pollution is increasing instead of decreasing.
- Cleaner Air = Longer Life
That is the statement as put out by a European Commission-funded study released earlier this year. They concluded that reducing pollution in major European cities could add 22 months to life expectancy and save 31.5 billion euros in health costs and missed work. They also reported the worst European offenders/tourist attractions, and the top three were Bucharest, Budapest, and Barcelona.
- Benefits of Carbon Offsets
Although some parts of air pollution are necessary, why not use resources to offset them elsewhere? This is the premise of carbon offsets, and it is reported on further by Green America. The math, benefits, and options are all outlined.
- Cap and Trade Would Have Worked
As reported on by The Brookings Institution, the government released a report regarding the Cap and Trade legislation of 2010. It stated that the future emission of all the carbon dioxide would cause about $100 billion in damage over the next decade and much more in the years after. If passed, the legislation was reported to have global cumulative benefits of $1.5 to $1.7 trillion dollars.
- Secondhand Smoke is Bad for You
This page by the American Cancer Society outlines the dangers of being exposed to secondhand smoke. Using reports by the EPA and others, they estimate that each year 46,000 deaths from heart disease are suffered by non-smokers who live with smokers and that 3,400 lung cancer deaths occur in non-smoking adults. There are also other statistics and tips for avoiding secondhand smoke.
- Biking is Better
Biking is often touted as a way to reduce air pollution from cars and buses. But did you also know that you are less likely to breathe in air pollution when biking? That is the conclusion of a study from Epidemiology and reported on by Forbes.
- Air Purifiers are all About CADR
The CADR, or clean air delivery rate, is often boasted by makers of air purifiers as the standard for which to purchase one on. However, with so many pollutants and dollars at stake, it is not the only means in which someone should choose which purifier to buy, if they buy one at all. AllerAir has more on what to look for in an air purifier.
- Carbon Dioxide Should be Regulated
In 2009, the EPA finalized its ruling that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas and should be regulated. As reported on by Time, the threat of CO2 “is real and should be acted on today.” The article also examines proposed and previous regulations, along with what they will mean.
- Fighting Air Pollution Creates Jobs
If it’s all about the economy, why can’t people be hired to help fight air pollution? The Clean Air Council reports that the EPA report entitled “Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards” will prevent 91 percent of mercury emissions from power plants annually leading to fewer premature deaths, heart attacks, and even hospital visits. They also stated that it would provide 31,000 new short-term construction jobs and 9,000 new permanent utility jobs.
Myths About Better Air Pollution
Feel as if you now know it all about air pollution? Then have a look at these counterpoints to the above on the very topic.
- Air Pollution is Getting Better
The Institute for Energy Research is a not-for-profit organization that conducts research on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. Here, they report on an EPA air quality trend that showed the air quality in the U.S. has significantly improved since 1990 and even 1970. However, the bad news was that very few others reported on it.
- Air Quality is Better
But what do scientists have to say about it? Scientific American reports that air quality has been steadily getting better leading to reduced levels of major contaminants. The Clean Air Act and other benefits are also discussed.
- Carbon Offset Upset
Although the experts at Wired believe that carbon offsets were a good idea, even they are admitting that the benefits are an illusion. They report that the emission trading plans are the equivalent to the subprime mortgage debacle. Other tidbits include the reality of the Kyoto Protocol, which was intended to seriously curb air pollution by 2012, has only amounted to about six and a half days’ worth of lower carbon emissions.
- Bigger Programs Lead to Bigger Failures
This is based on a report by The Guardian on the United Nation’s climate program which was dedicated to paying industries in developing countries to reduce climate change emissions. The result was that the fund was being routinely abused by chemical, wind, gas, and hydro companies claiming credits for projects that should not qualify. It resulted in no genuine pollution cuts leading to the argument that programs like this don’t work.
- Cap and Trade is a Jobs Destroyer
Feeling down that the Cap and Trade Bill of 2010 didn’t get passed? Then take a look at this report by The Heritage Foundation. Nicolas Loris explains the Waxman-Markley Bill in layman’s terms and why it would have been disastrous for jobs. A ten part series, they allege that it would increase the tax of doing business in America while doing little to cut actual air pollution.
- Secondhand Smoke Not Necessarily a Killer
John Stossel’s report for ABC a few years ago was so popular, it can still be read here. He counter argues that while being exposed long term to secondhand smoke can have negative health impacts, the legislation regarding it has gotten out of hand. There is also http://www.davehitt.com/facts/ this report examining the original EPA study on secondhand smoke and resulting ones.
- Secondhand Smoke Figures are Hyped
Check out this entry from Science Daily to get the low down on this claim. They use an often cited, yet not proved statistic from a U.S. newspaper in 1998 that said the secondhand smoke experienced in a vehicle was 23 times worse than in the home. Although riding in a car with a smoking smoker wasn’t discussed as a good idea, the site did put out the call that this particular statistic was untrue and should stop being quoted.
- Carbon Dioxide Regulation Bad for Economy
Setting aside the assertion that allowing the government to regulate a naturally occurring gas has dire consequences, what are the fiscal costs? The folks at American Solutions analyze the EPA’s ruling of carbon dioxide and put the cost at over $140 billion, and that’s just by 2014. They also put forth other arguments against carbon dioxide regulation.
- Fighting Air Pollution Kills Jobs
This statement is reported on by Bloomberg. When asking over 200 companies and industry groups as to which regulations were the biggest obstacles to doing business, the answers involved 111 regulations, 57 of which were issued by the EPA. Among the rules they complained about were pesticide permits, air-pollution standards, the Wall Street regulatory overhaul, and a proposed rule that restricts the use of multi-head shower fixtures.
- Bush Better for Air Pollution Than Clinton
Although Obama’s record on air pollution is yet to be finalized, can it be true that George W. Bush was a better president for the air than Bill Clinton? As reported on by Fox News, a policy analyst who wrote a report titled “Index of Leading Environmental Indicators” noted that levels of most air pollutants decreased at a faster rate in the Bush administration than they did during Clinton’s. Other facts and figures are included.
Remember that the above 20 myths about air pollution are only an addition to serious study regarding the topic. With air pollution regulation and results constantly in fluctuation, facts and statistics change as fast as the air we breathe and should be treated as such.