Are you aware of the extent and impact of air pollution on our health? Most people take it for granted that we have safe, clean air. However, the truth is much more challenging.
Air pollution is a significant global health crisis that affects our environment—our homes, schools, workplaces, and even the outdoors. Every year over 6.7 million people are estimated to die prematurely due to illnesses caused by polluted air. 89% of premature deaths occur in middle-income countries like South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions. Yet, many people remain unaware of this dirty truth and are not taking action to protect their health or the environment.
The following uncovers the devastating reality of air pollution and examines its impacts. From uncovering hidden sources of pollution to understanding its role in various diseases, this article looks into how we can help reduce air pollution, providing solutions with concrete strategies on how individuals and corporations can work together to create cleaner air for everyone.
Exposing the reality of air pollution
The hazardous effects of air pollution are a significant environmental risk to public health, contributing to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases like asthma. In 2019, 99% of the population lived where the WHO air quality guidelines were unmet.
Policies and investments that foster cleaner transport, energy-efficient homes, power generation, industry, and better waste management will reduce critical sources of outdoor air pollution. Clean household energy will reduce ambient air pollution in certain regions. The WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQG) provide global thresholds and limits for critical pollutants which pose health risks through a transparent, evidence-based process.
Causes of air pollution
These emissions are usually released directly into the air and can contain hazardous substances such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. This kind of emission is difficult to regulate and must be monitored closely by governments and industry representatives.
Burning these fuels creates chemicals that can cause health problems when inhaled in high concentrations. Power plants are one of the most significant sources of this pollution, which is why many countries have restricted their use. Industrial activities such as smelting metals also add to this type of pollution.
Most modern vehicles use cleaner-burning fuels but release harmful emissions into the air that need to be addressed through better regulation and monitoring standards for vehicle operation. Non-road transportation also contributes significantly to overall levels of air pollution through dust particles generated by train or ship activity and smoke from fires used for cooking or heating in rural or remote locations.
Trees are vital to keeping our planet healthy by helping with soil erosion prevention, filtering pollutants out from the water cycle, and creating oxygen for plants and animals alike. Unfortunately, deforestation is causing dangerous levels of particulate matter in our atmosphere due to decreased amounts captured by trees that would typically help reset it before dispersal elsewhere.
Here are some ways that people and businesses can work together to reduce air pollution and provide everyone with clean air:
Educate others and advocate for change
Education is vital in ensuring people understand why organizations must take steps and invest in solutions to reduce air pollution. Individuals can spread awareness about the harmful effects air pollution has on an ecosystem by advocating for positive change within their communities. Organizations and corporations should also join forces to promote initiatives that help reduce air pollution, such as investing in green technologies or collaborating with local groups for environmental protection programs.
Switch to clean energy sources
Transitioning from traditional fossil-fuel energy sources to renewable energy sources is critical when it comes to solving the issue of air pollution. As individuals, we can use clean sources such as solar power or wind energy at home. At the same time, businesses and corporations should consider powering operations with renewable energies, like hydropower or geothermal energy.
Engage in conservation practices
Conserving resources not only helps reduce emissions but also aids when it comes to conserving ecosystems. Individuals can start by implementing less wasteful practices at home, like turning off lights when leaving a room or taking shorter showers, all of which help conserve water and electricity usage. Businesses should invest in more efficient production methods that use fewer resources while producing better results
The issues of air pollution and its impacts on health have been growing worldwide, and it is becoming increasingly evident that there are no shortcuts to guaranteeing clean air and a healthier planet if drastic changes are not made. Taking action on the above-mentioned air pollution solutions would ensure that future generations can live without fear of the long-term effects of exposure to polluted air, preventing thousands or even millions of premature deaths in the years to come.