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If you live in a major city, you're probably familiar with that early morning gulp of air, followed by a minute of coughing up your lung. You knew that living in a smoggy area was bad for your health, but researchers are only starting to understand exactly how dangerous it is.
The National Academy of Sciences said yesterday that it only takes 24 hours of exposure to smog, also known as concentrated ozone air, to cause extreme damage to the lungs and result in hospitalization or even early death. This isn't the same ozone in the air that protects us from the sun and global warming. This type of ozone is a cocktail of burning fossil fuels that create nitrogen oxide and organic compounds that you breathe at ground level—you know, that mucky, greyish-yellow air that appears to hover around cities when observed from far away. Though environmentalists and researchers prove that these dangerous fumes can easily cause respiratory problems, especially in children, the government has been slow in making changes.
Answers to this problem includes getting the government to enforce standards on small engines like lawn mowers, but since there is no definitive answer as to why smog kills people, there is little impetus to change things. For now, it's up to the people to make greener decisions about their energy use to combat smog.
What green ideas do you have to try making your own impact on the air pollution problem? [Associated Press]