Chicago, as a dynamically growing city, brings detriments to the health of the environment, and in turn creates unhealthy living conditions. One of these unhealthy detriments is air pollution, specifically the air pollution that is caused by the energy that powers Illinois. Most of Illinois energy comes from nuclear power, along with coal and natural gases (1), emitting large amounts of CO2 into the air and creating nuclear waste. Poor air quality may cause some health problems such as asthma, respiratory problems, skin and eye irritation, or shortness of breath, all worsening when exposed to the poor air quality for long periods of time (2). Chicago’s energy use furthers overall air pollution by depending on the nuclear and coal power, adding to climate change and overarching health problems.
Instead of using Illinois’s nuclear energy and creating low air quality for the homes that surround the nuclear power plants, or overall furthering air pollution for the Chicagoland area, Chicago can create its own energy by incorporating solar panels in its urban design. By using renewable energy to power homes, business and manufacturing buildings, Chicago will not aid in the emissions of nuclear and CO2 waste in the air, but instead create cleaner air quality. Having solar panels on buildings to create energy will further Chicago’s goal in becoming a more sustainable and healthy city.
Trees are also a useful source for cleaning Chicago’s contaminated air, as well as creating an abundance of green city spaces such as green roofs, parks, and informal planted areas, which create “carbon sinks” (3). Green space carbon sinks would clean Chicago’s air by consuming carbon emissions and releasing oxygen. Having more natural areas in any urban environment would improve air quality, creating clean and healthy living conditions, as well as a more sustainable city.
Good planning is providing a healthy and livable environment, which includes reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and combating the threat of climate change (4). Cities’ goals of eliminating or reducing air pollution is a step towards a healthy earth.