This September, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its recommended limits for almost every pollutant. "The new global air quality guidelines reflect an overwhelming scientific consensus that countries need to more aggressively limit air pollution and protect everyone’s health," writes Tufts University's Laura Corlin.
The WHO cut in half its recommended limit for exposure to PM2.5 - particles commonly produced by cars, trucks, and airplanes - and cut the limits for air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide that are produced when fossil fuels are burned by vehicles.
Those pollutants are linked to heart-related deaths, lung cancer, increased likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease, and lower birth weights for babies.
Corlin writes that "In the United States, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards are 2.4 times higher than WHO’s recommended level for yearly average PM2.5 exposure and roughly 10 times higher for yearly average nitrogen dioxide."
The good news is that we can all make a dent in dangerous air pollutants simply by driving less. From working remotely to taking transit, carpooling, using vanpools and shuttles, or riding a bike, small actions can make a big impact that benefits all of us.
Learn more about improving Central Texas' air quality at Air Central Texas.