How Does Energy Affect Air Quality

Air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk for premature death in the world, contributing to over 5 million deaths every year. Exposure to pollution can trigger numerous health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. Certain pollutants have been linked to increased risk of lung disease, heart disease, cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases.

How does energy production affect air quality?

Most air pollution in the United States is connected to the production and use of energy. The vast majority of the electricity generated in Alabama comes from fossil fuels. Producing energy from fossil fuels involves the combustion of fuels like coal, gas, and oil. During this process, chemicals and gasses are released into the atmosphere, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and mercury. Nitrogen oxides, or NOx, contribute to ground-level ozone, which is the most common air pollutant in the United States.  Ozone pollution can trigger asthma attacks and is especially problematic for kids, seniors, and people with pre-existing health issues.

How can I help reduce air pollution?

Because most air pollution comes from energy use, you can make a difference by making small adjustments to your everyday activities. This includes turning off the lights and appliances when they’re not being used. Invest in energy efficiency by having an energy audit done on your home and completing as many of the recommended upgrades as possible. Turn the air to a more reasonable temperature during summer (74-78) and winter months (66-70). Upgrade to ENERGY STAR appliances in your home. And lastly, if your budget allows, add solar panels to your rooftop or invest in renewable energy credits through your utility to make sure your electricity comes from clean sources like wind and solar!