Get ready for World Clean Air Day

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to the health of the planet and its people. It is the source of approximately seven million premature deaths annually and countless illnesses.

The United Nations General Assembly designated the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, also known as World Clean Air Day, in 2019. Its 4th annual observance will be on September 7, 2023 (1). The commemoration provides:

  • a platform for highlighting the urgency of the world’s air quality problem
  • aspirational motivation for more political action in combatting air pollution
  • a call for international solidarity around the idea that every citizen of the world has a right to breathe clean air

World Clean Air Day spotlights key air quality matters, such as:

  • strengthening international air quality data collection standards
  • combining scientific research efforts among nations
  • identifying and sharing best practices and developing new technologies

Global air quality guidelines

In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their Global Air Quality Guidelines in response to the wealth of scientific and medical information that had been accumulated since the last update to these guidelines in 2005.

This information revealed that the harmful effects of air pollution on human health occur at exposure levels much lower than was previously known. In response to the new findings, WHO reduced their acceptable levels of exposure to various air pollutants required to maintain healthy populations.

If countries meet these lower target levels of air pollution, millions of lives will be saved. Still, experts estimate that nine out of ten people are consistently exposed to highly polluted air.

World air quality and pollution are global problems with local implications. New air quality guidelines are a start, but we have a long way to go before everyone is breathing healthy air.

Read on to find out more about ongoing efforts in the battle for better air quality—and what YOU can do to help.

How you can take action and help

We’re all in this together. Governments, businesses, schools, and individuals can all take part in making commitments to reduce air pollution, and help create a cleaner, greener world.

The role of private citizens

Much can be done by every individual to reduce air pollution. Make a commitment to:

  • leave your vehicle at home and use public transportation, cycle, and walk more
  • reduce the waste you add to the planet by reusing, recycling, and composting
  • adopt a plant-based diet
  • limit your use of single-use plastic products like straws, flatware, and condiment packets
  • conserve energy by hitting the off button on lights and electronics at every opportunity
  • purchase energy-efficient appliances

The role of governments

Governments at the national, state, and local level have enormous power in the battle for cleaner air. To honor World Clean Air Day, the UN recommends governments pledge to:

  • join the BreatheLife Network to help raise public awareness of the harmful impacts of air pollution on health and climate
  • organize campaigns, events, and activities to engage and inform citizens
  • develop stronger air quality and climate change policies following the lead of the WHO’s air quality guidelines and the Paris Agreement
  • create air quality action plans
  • improve air quality monitoring systems
  • reduce fossil fuel subsidies
  • increase investments in renewable energy sources
  • phase out fossil fuel-burning vehicles
  • create policies that encourage clean energy sources in homes
  • improve solid waste management practices to decrease emissions from that sector
  • measure and report the health and financial gains achieved through implementation of upgraded policies

On World Clean Air Day, city governments can offer free public transportation, hold tree-planting, bicycling, and walking events and in-person or virtual meetings with public officials and health professionals. Share pictures, videos, and stories of the day on social media using hashtag #WorldCleanAirDay.

The role of businesses

The private sector can have a distinctive impact in improving air quality. The UN suggests that businesses commit to:

  • transition toward renewable energy sources to power their operations
  • use recycled and recyclable materials in products and packaging
  • reduce air pollution emissions and waste from their production cycle
  • purchase hybrid or electric vehicles for their company fleet
  • cool their facilities with fresh air ventilation or a hydrofluorocarbon system

On World Clean Air Day, announce a promise to invest in creating a cleaner, more sustainable way of conducting business.

The role of schools

Teaching students the importance of good air quality and sustainability is vital to their wellbeing, now and throughout their lives. Students and educators can take a lead role in their communities’ efforts for cleaner air. The UN advises to:

  • advocate for electric buses and bicycle-friendly campuses
  • explore options for the use of renewable energy on campus
  • install air quality monitors on campuses and then report the results to parents and the community at large
  • designate “no car idling” zones near campuses
  • create environmental clubs, online or on campus

On September 7, have a tree-planting or garden-planting event, register that event here, and share pictures, videos and stories on social media using hashtag #WorldCleanAirDay.

It starts with knowledge

Sadly, most of the world’s population lacks access to real-time air quality data.

There is an ever-increasing need for comprehensive air quality monitoring and reporting systems. One such system delivers real-time air quality information to people in every corner of the world. A free download to this valuable air quality monitoring resource is available here.

Low-cost air quality monitors allow governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals to effectively increase air quality knowledge around the globe.

The takeaway

The deaths and disease caused by air pollution are preventable. By raising air quality awareness and taking steps to solve the problem, we can begin to make the world a better place to breathe.

The number one air cleaning solution for your home.

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