We all want the best for our kids and that goes double when it comes to their health.
That’s why with each new story that emerges about the harmful effects of air pollution on children, more and more parents are scrambling to find out how to avoid bad air.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways to avoid air pollution so your family can breathe easier.
Ready for the rundown?
1) Say goodbye to smog on the school run
It’s a journey you make every weekday, but have you taken the time to think about what you’re breathing on the route?
Rule number one, don’t drive unless you have to. Air pollution is often much higher inside the car than outside it. Not only will your kids breathe better, you won’t be contributing more emissions to the problem when you leave the car at home.
If ditching the drive isn’t an option, make sure you don’t commit the cardinal air quality sin—engine idling.
Turn your engine off when waiting outside the school. Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and creates more smog than turning off and restarting your engine.
If you think the air is bad at grownup level, try crouching down to kid level when there’s an idling engine nearby—it’s even worse down there!
If you’re lucky enough to be able to walk to school, steer clear of main roads and stick to the backstreets. It may add a few minutes to the walk, but it’ll save your family’s lungs—pollution can vary by a factor of 1:10 from street to street in the city!
What to take things further? You’ll soon be able to map your route with Flow, the personal air quality tracker. Work out which roads are safest so you can avoid the most polluted streets in your neighborhood.
2) Take action
Taking on air pollution is a collective project. There are plenty of ways to get your family and school involved in the fight for clean air.
Why not organize an air quality awareness day? Encourage other parents to walk or cycle kids to school, and make sure shutting down engine idling is on everyone’s minds.
Get your school to check air quality levels daily and alert parents when pollution is high. The Plume Air Report offers morning notifications so you can know before you go.
Cities are starting to wake up to the extent of this problem. The Mayor of London, for example, conducted air quality audits of schools in the British capital to try to limit the impacts of bad air on students.
In serious cases, schools have implemented infrastructural improvements such as green walls or relocated entrances away from main roads.
3) Pollution-proof your home.
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but air quality indoors in poorly ventilated areas can be even worse than outdoors.
The number one culprits are those cleaning products that emit harmful gases known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
These are molecules found as gases in the air that originate from household products, cooking processes or indoor mold. They can cause irritations and decreased breathing capacity at high concentrations.
Always be sure to check the label. It’s better to go for multi-use products, to avoid combining multiple irritants.
Make sure to store these products in a safe, ventilated area. Avoid sprays, and try old home remedies like savon noir or white vinegar instead.
Most importantly, ventilate after cleaning by opening a window! After cooking too.
In fact, it’s best to open the windows in your house for at least ten minutes a day to completely renew indoor air. You can use the Plume Air Report smog forecasting application to find the best moment to do so.