Environmental health: Are we breathing healthy air?

God gave us breath. He breathed into us the breath of life. Good, clean air is indispensable to our continued health and well-being. However, when the quality of air is poor we are at risk for respiratory conditions and other health problems. How can we prevent these problems caused by air pollution?

-wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

God gave us breath. He breathed into us the breath of life. Good, clean air is indispensable to our continued health and well-being. However, when the quality of air is poor we are at risk for respiratory conditions and other health problems. How can we prevent these problems caused by air pollution?

According to a World Health Organization assessment of the burden of disease due to air pollution, more than two million premature deaths each year can be attributed to the effects of urban outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution (caused by the burning of solid fuels). More than half of this disease burden is borne by developing countries.1

Around the world, many major air pollutants affecting our atmosphere include: sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxides, carbon dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Another cause of air pollution includes the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum, and gasoline. Other sources of air pollutants include fires, dust mites, furry pets, mold, tobacco smoke, and certain chemicals.2

Poor air quality can affect your lungs, resulting in coughing or wheezing. Some other adverse affects of poor air quality include nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, eye irritation, or skin irritation.2

Air quality issues can be minimized by being cautious. The following is a list of environmental issues you may wish to encourage your members to be aware of: 3

Car pooling: Forming a car pool will reduce the number of cars causing air pollution by cutting down the use of fossil fuels.

Vehicle care: Regular maintenance of your car helps to keep it in good condition and minimizes harmful exhaust fumes.

Public transport: Whenever possible, travel by public transportation. This reduces air pollution and increases public income. If you are going to a nearby place, walk or ride a bicycle instead of using your vehicle. The objective is to minimize the use of fuels as much as possible.

Alternative energy source: Another effective way to reduce air pollution is to use alternative energy sources such as solar energy, hydroelectric energy, and wind energy. Nowadays, sophisticated technologies such as wind turbine and solar water heaters are introduced to generate electricity and other energy forms for household use.

Saving energy: Saving energy will, of course, help reduce air pollution. Switch off the lights, fans, air conditioners, televisions, and other appliances when not needed. You can also share a room with others when the air conditioner or fan is on, instead of switching them on in every room.

Minimize air pollutants: Always try to minimize smoke emission, as it can contribute to air pollution. One way is to compost bio-degradable waste instead of burning it.

Social awareness about air pollution is the most essential step to take for the reduction of air pollution. Improvement of transport facilities and proper use of land for the sake of social benefits are equally important for controlling air pollution.4

For indoor air quality, clean your homes, churches, and offices often to reduce dust, pet dander, mold, and other air particulates. Remember to have a well-ventilated area, especially when cooking or involved in other indoor activities. If you are ever near a fire, cover your mouth and protect your eyes.

Let’s do our part to keep God’s creation clean and preserve a safe and healthy environment.


1. World Health Organization. Air Quality Guidelines—global update 2005. Available at: www.who.int.

2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Air Pollution & Respiratory Health (October 27, 2010). Available at: www.cdc.gov.

3. Sandhyarani, N. “Ways To Prevent Air Pollution.” Available at www.buzzle.com. 2010.

4. Ibid.


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-wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

July 2011

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