Avoiding air contaminants can be difficult when we do not have complete control over the air we breathe. Nonetheless, actions can be taken to reduce exposure to harmful air contaminants.
Potential exposure to air pollution exists in both urban and rural communities. Air pollution from vehicles makes exposure to air pollution almost unavoidable in urban areas. In rural areas, air pollution can be generated from agricultural applications of pesticides and off-road vehicles. Because air is a continuous medium (air is not contained), contaminants may travel from urban areas to rural areas and vice versa.
There are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure, including:
- Pay attention to air quality alerts and stay indoors or reduce level of physical activity during times of high pollution
- Install a HEPA filter in your home (be sure your air filter does not generate ozone)
- Take public transportation
- Reduce your use of household products that are air contaminants, such as solvents, sealers, and adhesives
- Keep car windows and vents closed when in heavy traffic
- Don't burn wood or use cleaner wood-burning fireplaces
You can also take steps to decrease your contribution to air pollution or to encourage pollution reduction in your community:
- Reduce your motor vehicle use or switch to a more fuel efficient and less polluting vehicle
- Know the toxic air sources in your community and work toward the enforcement or establishment of regulations that reduce or eliminate them
- Alert authorities to potential violations or concerns
- Support transportation planning and policies that encourage mass transit
- Support policies and activities around cleaner energy sources
For more information on avoiding air contaminants, visit the California Air Resources Board.