Bringing change is something that comes from within. In addition to leading processes and innovative measures for environmental contamination testing, we at Envirolab Services, are strongly committed to driving continuous environmental improvement across our organisation and operations.
To ensure we genuinely live and breathe our commitment to the environment and sustainability across the entirety of our operations, we have been engaged in various initiatives. For example, we have been strategically implementing new processes and software over the last few years to replace the need for printing and ultimately move towards operating as a completely paperless business. Our involvement in recycling programs are also aimed to reduce air pollution by sending less items to landfills.
World Environment Day (WED) occurs on the 5th of June every year, and is the United Nation's principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. In celebrating the 2019’s theme, “Air Pollution,” we acknowledge there is still a fair bit of work for us all to do to raise awareness and take action on emerging environmental issues.
2019 Theme: Air Pollution
“Air Pollution,” the theme of WED 2019, urges governments, industry, communities and individuals to take action to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve the air quality in cities and regions across the world.
Around the world, millions of people are increasingly getting involved each year in various activities. For 2019, everyone is being called to join the Mask Challenge. Face masks symbolise the need to address and improve the management of air quality.
What is Air Pollution?
To take a step forward and get involved, let’s take a step back for a moment. We need to understand what air pollution is, the different types and sources of air pollution, and how it affects our health and the environment. This will help us take steps towards improving the air around us.
Air pollution is broadly defined as the as the emission of harmful substances to the atmosphere and occur as gases, including carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO₂), ozone (O₃) and volatile organic compounds or “VOCs” (e.g. benzene and acetone).
Pollutants can be naturally occurring substances or energies. They are considered contaminants when in excess of natural levels. The use of natural resources at a rate higher than nature’s capacity to restore itself can result in the environmental contamination of air, water, and land.
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) provides information about substance emissions in Australia. It contains data on the emission estimates for 93 toxic substances, the source and location of these emissions. Briefly discussed above, carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas and tasteless flammable gas produced by the incomplete combustion hydrocarbon fuels. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen in any home or building with just gas heating appliances alone.
Comparatively, ozone, a colourless and highly irritating gas, is categorised as a “secondary” pollutant because it is produced when two primary, or emitted chemicals (such as oxides of nitrogen and VOCs) react in sunlight and stagnant air (photochemical reactions).
Why is air quality so important?
Maintaining and improving the quality of indoor and outdoor air is fundamental for individual health as well as the continued liveability of our towns and cities and the general environment. Air pollution, particularly from human activity, can cause health problems that affect the heart and lungs, and can cause cancer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) attributes 4.2 million deaths annually due to ambient (outdoor) air pollution; 3.8 million deaths as a result of household exposure to smoke from dirty cooking stoves and fuels. It is also estimated that 91% of the world’s population lives in areas where the air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits.
Even short-term exposure to air pollution can cause health problems. Children, the elderly and people with existing heart and lung conditions, including asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivities, are especially affected by air pollution.
While research by scientists has indicated that Australia has very clean air by world standards, its environment and economy may experience the greater impact due to the continent’s extreme heat and dryness. Global warming may increase risks of rising sea levels, fires, flooding, drought and changes in biodiversity and ecosystems.
How personal lifestyles, business and Government can cope with these impacts depends on the rate and extent of climate change and their ability to adapt or do more. At a regulatory level, State and territories have primary responsibility for monitoring and managing air quality in their jurisdictions, through independent agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which encourage businesses to engage in activities to not harm the environment and human health. The National Clean Air Agreement helps governments prioritise national actions to address air quality issues.
What we can we as individuals do to help?
Even if you prefer to not join the Mask Challenge, there are still a few simple, yet effective actions you can take to reduce air pollution:
- Use public transport or consider car sharing, cycling or walking
- Switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle
- Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy to help cut methane emissions
- Switch to high-efficiency home heating systems and equipment
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.
- Save energy by switching to solar or turn off lights and electronics when they are not in use
At Envirolab, we offer air and gas quality testing. Further information can found under the air, stack emissions and soil gas interest area section on our capabilities page. Alternatively, get in touch with our dedicated team today and we’ll be happy to answer questions you have on air quality testing for indoor and outdoor environments.
About UN World Environment Day
Since it began in 1972, World Environment Day (WED, UNEP, or UN Environment) is a UN Environment-led global event for inspiring and motivating worldwide awareness and action for the positive protection of the environment. Celebrated annually on the 5th of June, this initiative has since grown to become a major global effort that is aimed to raise awareness and take action against environmental catastrophes including marine pollution, global warming, wildlife crime and sustainable consumption.
Each World Environment Day is organised around a theme that draws attention to a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2019 is “Air pollution.” This theme will be hosted by China. It is a matter of grave concern because the quality of life starts with the air that we breathe.
In essence, the event promotes leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
Stay informed by visiting the official World Environment Day site.
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