How to combat smog in Los Angeles
Most people have a vague idea of what smog is, and they're right in assuming that it's mainly caused by automotive exhaust. Smog is a combination of smoke and fog, and it just hangs in the air. It disperses much more slowly than smoke, which is where the "fog" part of the name comes from.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles is notorious in the United States for the amount of smog polluting its air. Several factors contribute to this problem, but there aren't really any concrete solutions for fixing it.
It leads to the question – Why does Los Angeles have such terrible air quality on a consistent basis?
The environment around Los Angeles is perfect for trapping air pollution. At a low altitude, the city is surrounded by hills and mountains, so the air pollution builds up without ever escaping. The difference between Los Angeles and Chicago – another major metropolitan city – is that Chicago isn't lower than its surrounding areas. It's like pouring water into a glass versus pouring water onto a table.
Of course, the Los Angeles’ population doesn't help when it comes to smog reduction. The more people are on the road, the more pollution they will create. Los Angeles is one of the largest and densest metropolitan areas in the United States. The urban population, with nearly 18 million people, is second only to New York City. An individual car might not contribute much, but even a small amount of pollution multiplied several million times becomes a large amount of pollution.
Smog can harm the environment by increasing the potency and occurrence of acid rain, but the bigger risk is to human health. When health warnings are in effect, respiratory ailments are compounded. Asthma, allergies and other illnesses can trigger attacks. Even for otherwise healthy people, breathing in smoke and fog too often can lead to difficulty breathing and even an increased risk for lung cancer.
Paper face masks can help a little when warnings are in effect, but they won't block out everything. An air filter for your home will help reduce levels inside your home and an air conditioner can remove most of what's left. However, don't open up your windows when smog rolls in, and only travel outside when you absolutely have to.
This problem affects everybody, so try carpooling or using mass transportation like trains or buses. Everyone working together can have a large impact on air quality, and using alternate transportation helps save you money. Because ozone warnings usually coincide with high humidity and temperature, remember to stay hydrated. Save outdoor activities for another day. If you want to exercise, take it inside.
Technology of the future
In several decades, electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars might replace traditional combustion engine automobiles as the vehicle of choice for consumers. With zero vehicular emissions, air pollution in Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas will be all but eliminated.
That doesn't mean you can't do anything today. Smaller vehicles produce less emissions, and hybrid vehicles, which combine electric motors with gasoline engines, are far more fuel efficient for city driving. Large cars and trucks typically get 15 to 25 mpg, but more efficient vehicles easily get double that. Less fuel means less air pollution.