It’s time to put an end to pollution! This week is Pollution Prevention Week. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pollution Prevention Week is meant to encourage “reducing or eliminating sources of pollution to prevent damage to the environment while also eliminating the need for costly controls and cleanup.”

How bad is pollution?

Very bad. According to the Washington Post, deteriorating air quality resulted in 10,000 additional U.S. deaths over a period of two years. In 2016, poor air quality – caused by transportation systems, industrial facilities, power and heat generation, and agricultural waste – led to an estimated 4.2 million early deaths across the globe, with roughly 90% in low and middle-income nations, according to the World Health Organization. Air pollution leads to increased risks of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory illness, and also contributes to climate change, which is currently threatening our planet. In the world’s oceans, streams, lakes, and rivers, improperly disposed trash accounts for about 80% of pollution, according to the EPA. Pollution in waterways threatens both human and animal health, and affects about 800 of the world’s species, according to the United Nations.

How are engineering students helping curb pollution?

In the last year alone, student engineers around the world have designed a number inventions that may help us prevent pollution, including a solar-powered floatable device dubbed “ClearBot” that clears trash from water, bioplastics that can be manufactured from fish scales, bricks made from recycled plastic, and even a device that converts sound into electricity. However, technology alone won’t be enough to stop pollution. For that, we need to change our habits. 

How can we reduce pollution in our day to day lives?

There’s plenty we can do to reduce pollution. Take public transportation, walk, or ride a bike. Use less electricity, water, and plastic. Recycle. If you can, use green cleaning supplies (see recommendations from the EPA). You can also encourage your workplace or school to invest in green energy technology like solar panels. 

Teach students how to construct outdoor air pollution detectors from everyday materials with the IEEE TryEngineering Lesson Plan, Pollution Patrol. Download it today!