Combating Air Pollution with Solar

Is our air really polluted?

According to a research conducted, Malaysians’ perception of the air quality where they live is either “not polluted at all” or “somewhat polluted, but causes no harm”. However, statistics show that air pollution is responsible for one out of every nine deaths in Malaysia, making it one of the top causes of death. Malaysia’s poor air quality is also seen in the reoccurrence of haze episodes.

What pollutes the air?

Besides slash-and-burn agricultural activities and forest fires from neighbouring countries, another major factor of air pollution in our country is high level of carbon monoxide emissions. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is produced in the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas and oil and the largest anthropogenic source of this gas in Malaysia is vehicle emissions. What you might not know is that car ownership in Malaysia is the third highest in the world at 93% and 54% of households have more than one car. Hence, when we put these statistics together, it is no surprise that our air quality has worsened due to the number of cars on the road, urbanisation and industrialization.

What happens when air becomes polluted?

One of the main danger carbon monoxide brings is that it can disrupt the transport of oxygen by the blood, leading to heart and health problems. Additionally, carbon monoxide also contributes to the formation of tropospheric ozone. According to the US-based Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank, increase of the tropospheric ozone is associated with a variety of adverse health effects such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other than that, carbon monoxide exposures especially affect unborn babies, infants and people with anemia or a history of respiratory or heart disease.

How will going solar help combat air pollution?

In order to improve our air quality, we need to first work towards eliminating the air pollutants in the atmosphere. One of the ways to do so is to go solar. This is because solar energy production does not contribute any air pollutants or greenhouse gases into our environment. Moreover, an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that widespread solar adoption would significantly reduce nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions, all of which can cause health problems. NREL also found that, among other health benefits, solar power results in fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, respiratory and cardiovascular problems.