Jane Marsh – What is the impact of renewable energies on air pollution?

Fortunately, investments in renewable energy technologies are currently offsetting the severe environmental consequences. According to the US Energy Information Administration, renewable energy 24% of total electricity production in the United States during the first half of 2022.

While there’s still a long way to go, increasing renewable energy production is paving the way for the United States to meet its climate goals and help improve air quality. Here are five ways renewable energy has a positive impact on air pollution and protects human health.

1. Reduces particles

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — measurement of inhalable air particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter – represents the most critical threat to global health. Power plants and the transport and industrial sectors are the main sources of PM2.5, emitting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.

Humans are very susceptible to respiratory and cardiovascular problems when exposed to PM2.5. However, the outside air is not the only place where they may be exposed. Indoor air also contains large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – a harmful type of PM2.5 – from standard household products and older appliances.

The transition to solar and wind power can limit PM2.5 almost immediately. Meanwhile, other renewables like geothermal and biomass emit far fewer particulates than dirty fuels.

2. Reduces Allergens

A growing body of evidence suggests that air pollution increases allergies, which could be serious for people with chronic respiratory conditions and asthma. The results even show the pollen season in the United States increased from 11 to 27 days between 1995 and 2011.

In China, where air pollution has been a problem for decades, the prevalence of asthma in the population is 4.2%. Allergic rhinitis now stands at 5.33% and is the main allergic condition in the country.

Carbon pollutants from fossil fuels and warmer temperatures extend growing seasons and cause plants to produce extra pollen – another great reason for a renewable energy revolution. Renewable energy can reverse the trend of longer pollen seasons, which would dramatically improve air quality.

3. Prevents Stagnation Events

The hottest days of summer are conducive to air pollution. Also known as stagnation events, these extreme weather events trap pollutants at lower atmospheric levels for an extended duration.

According to a study by Climate Central, 83% of US cities have experienced a six-day annual increase in stagnant events since 1973. Perhaps even more alarming, the World Health Organization found in 2011 that exposure to term to stagnant pollutants had caused 200.00 and 400,000 premature respiratory and cardiovascular deaths per year in Europe.

Scientists expect the stagnation to worsen as climate change induces more extreme summer temperatures. However, there is a chance that renewable energy can prevent stagnation days by reducing ozone and air pollutants.

4. Limits Ozone Levels

The fossil fuel industry is not particularly known for controlling air pollution. Many coal-fired power plants still do not use wet scrubbers, which have proven to be very effective in removing PM2.5. Unfortunately, the nitrogen oxide emissions produced by these plants are the main component of increased ozone levels.

Researchers monitor ozone to determine the air quality of an area. A fall can have serious health consequences, such as difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and lung inflammation, all of which may require medical attention. Renewable energy can help limit ozone and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to improve air quality.

5. Increases fog and precipitation

Scientists predict that fog and precipitation will decrease in coastal regions due to global warming – these elements are essential for trapping and removing PM2.5 from the air. As temperatures have warmed over the decades, a drop in humidity has lowered air quality.

For example, San Francisco has seen a 34.5% decrease in fog – about three to four hours less per day – which increases its vulnerability to drier air, more wildfires and poor health. ecological. Coast redwoods are also showing signs of distress from less fog, as evidenced by reduced land cover and mass mortality of smaller redwood species. Therefore, renewables can prevent a drop in condensation and humidity for clearer, cleaner air.

Renewable energy improves the air we breathe

Short-term and long-term exposure to air pollution is hazardous to the environment and human health. Renewable energy is humanity’s greatest asset for improving air quality and reducing the negative impacts of climate change from dirty fossil fuels.

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