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8 ways to improve the air you breathe

A news service from AdvocateAuroraHealth

More than 4 in 10 Americans reside in a place with “unhealthy” levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association. Your carbon footprint not only contributes to air pollution but also to what the World Health Organization considers the largest health threat facing humanity: climate change.

Polluted air increases your risk for many respiratory-related conditions such as asthma, lung cancer and stunted lung growth in developing children. Luckily, there are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint to benefit your health, as well as the health of those around you.

Travis Hawks, sustainability specialist with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care says, “The primary contributors to the average American’s carbon footprint are energy usage in their homes and transportation, followed by purchasing habits, food choices and waste production.”

According to Hawks, there are eight ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and help combat climate change to improve air quality:

  1. Use less energy – Lowering your energy usage not only reduces your carbon footprint, but also helps improve air quality and save money.
  2. Turn off your lights – Replace your lights with LED bulbs, use a smart thermostat, turn your computer off when it’s not in use and use smart power strips to reduce energy usage.
  3. Minimize driving – If you have the option, choose to walk or bike to your desired destination. This is good for your health and the health of the environment. If you do drive, hybrid and electric cars are the most environmentally friendly option.
  4. Start a garden – Not only does this outdoor activity reduce stress, but it also supports better air quality due to plants naturally filtering the air.
  5. Eat less processed foods – Incorporate more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet or try a plant-based diet.
  6. Reduce your meat intake – Consider going meatless one meal a day. For your other meals, try to limit your consumption of beef, lamb and pork. Their production produces the highest amounts of CO2 compared to other meat options.
  7. Consider greener lawncare – Use an old-school push or electric mower instead of a gas-powered mower.
  8. Install solar power – Solar energy generates electricity through sunlight without producing emissions.

This article originally appeared on health enews.

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