Polluted air is all over the United States but six major cities have clean records.
Honolulu was ranked as being the second cleanest city in America, and BYU-Hawaii students expressed gratitude and solutions to help clean up polluted air.
The American Lung Association released a list of the 25 cleanest U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution. The first six are Cheyenne, Wyoming; Urban Honolulu, Hawaii; Casper, Wyoming; Bismarck, North Dakota; Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, and Pueblo-Canon City, Colorado.
According to the American Lung Association, these cities reported having “zero high ozone or high particle pollution days, and were among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explained particulate matter (PM) pollution as “a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air.” Examples are dust, smoke and smog. Smog is made when gases from tailpipes or smokestacks come in contact with sunlight. These substances are closely related to diseases like asthma, it says.
Aside from disease, PMs can affect the environment. According to the EPA, PMs can cause lakes and rivers to be acidic, deplete nutrients from the soil, and disrupt ecosystems.
Commenting on the importance of clean air, Emmalee Smith, a senior from Virginia majoring in biology, said, “Clean air is important because that’s what goes into our bodies and we can’t live without it. If it’s not clean, we’re just continually putting bad things into our bodies and practically poisoning ourselves.”
Seeing a major difference in air quality between Manila and Hawaii, Ephraim Insigne, a senior from the Philippines studying accounting, said, “I have benefited from the lack of pollution in Laie because I can breathe properly compared to Manila where I was always coughing because of the smog.”
Suggesting a way to help improve air quality, Smith said, “Trees are incredibly important and are essential to fresh air. They are a natural part of our environment that cleans the air. The ocean is also incredibly important as most of our oxygen comes from phytoplankton.”
Smith said Virginia does not have the cleanest air, but it does have a lot of forests to help clean up the air. She also said the Clean Air Act and Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Law help keep the air clean.
Another solution to the problem, Insigne said, “We can reduce the aerosols that we use. Aerosols add more to our air than we think. My country right now abolished public smoking, so that’s one step to clean air.”
Sauliloa Tuipulotu, a junior from Tonga studying accounting, said, “In my home country, we used to just burn our rubbish anywhere but now the government changed that. Instead of burning the rubbish, the rubbish truck would come every week to get our rubbish from our homes, so there is less air pollution in my home country now.”