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Environment, Agriculture & Conservation careers

Air: Quality & Pollution Control

Let’s clear the air…

“Traffic pollution linked to asthma in children”

“Cycling in London is the equivalent of smoking three cigarettes a day.”

We see stories like these in the news all the time! Air pollution is a huge problem across the world. The detrimental effects of poisonous emissions from industry, traffic and human activity are ruining the environment. That’s why we need the people who work in the exciting world of air quality control and pollution prevention careers.

Why is it important? What does it involve?

Thankfully, in recent years, the public has started to show more concern for the quality of the UK’s air. Understandably, the government has reacted and new laws and schemes have now been introduced to reduce air pollution. The London cycle hire scheme is in full effect and the ‘smoking ban’ now seems like an entirely normal part of life, even to the extent where it feels weird if you go to another country and people are smoking indoors. However, the problem of air pollution is by no means solved.

People are still employed to make sure that air pollution laws are adhered to and that the quality of the nation’s air continues to improve. These guys are the ones striving towards making sure that no black stuff splutters onto the tissue when you blow your nose. In the words of Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changing!” And you could get involved!

These roles come with quite a lot or responsibility and require specific technical expertise. Consequently, if you get a degree in a relevant subject, such as environmental science, biology or chemistry, you’ll stand a much better chance of breaking into this line of work.

It’s absolutely essential that you build up your knowledge on the scientific and practical side of this subsector. Careers in environmental clean-up are becoming increasingly popular these days. A lot of people are starting to pursue a career in this area, so it’s important to try and separate yourself from the flock of rivals. Try to get some work experience. Even if it’s not specific to air pollution control, a work experience role related to the environment will show any potential employers that you have a genuine passion for saving the planet!

Break it down for me a little bit!

The most common role in this area of work is that of an air pollution control technician. These guys literally change the face of the world by helping to reduce the amount of pollution that is emitted each day. Quite a bit of responsibility then, I’m sure you’d agree!

You’ve got a bunch of options at your fingertips if you want to break into this area of work. You could pursue your professional career within a governmental agency, an environmental consultancy firm or permanently for a huge industrial company that is constantly concerned about its own pollution levels.

Just to be clear, you’re probably not going to be working in the countryside, running through idyllic meadows and catching samples of air in a magic bag. You’ll most likely be collecting samples using incredibly high-tech equipment in the nation’s metropolises and industrial areas. Then, it’s all about testing them in a laboratory. Put simply, there’s more need for air pollution technicians in London than there is in the Outer Hebrides, where the majority of air pollution comes out of cows’ backsides.

As far as day-to-day activities are concerned, you’ll be doing anything from actively measuring air pollution, to designing innovative schemes and campaigns to improve the quality of air. You might kick start your career in a more hands-on position, installing and operating all the technical equipment that’s used to gather air samples. You’ll be using your mathematical and analytical skills to take readings and then using your results to offer advice to clients on how they can decrease their pollution levels.

The next step on the ladder might involve become a full-time air quality inspector or an environmental consultant that specialises in air pollution issues. At this level, you won’t be carrying out the nitty-gritty sample-taking and analysis work. Instead, you’ll be making client visits to commercial companies and industrial organisations, inspecting their current pollution levels and then working with them to help them cut down their emissions.

If carbon footprints get you in a rage, leave your own mark on the world by getting in the air quality and pollution control industry!