- Posted by CERC India
- Posted in July
Focus on air pollution this World Environment Day
Air pollution is the fourth largest cause of death among all health risks
Seven million premature deaths are caused by air pollution globally each year and four million of these deaths occur in the Asia-Pacific. Up to one-third of deaths from heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are caused by air pollution, says World Health Organization (WHO).
In fact, air pollution is theÂ fourth-highest cause of death among all health risks, after high blood pressure, diet, and smoking.Â You may not be able to see it many times, but air pollution is everywhere. With every breath, you are sucking in tiny particles that attack your lungs, heart and brain. Air pollutants also cause global warming. In view of this global crisis, the theme for World Environment Day 2019, which falls on June 5, is â€˜Beating Air Pollutionâ€™.
World Environment Day is celebrated every year and is the United Nationâ€™s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Each year there is a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern.
The theme for 2018 was: â€˜Beat Plastic Pollutionâ€™. On that occasion, the Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, had said: â€œOn World Environment Day, the message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you canâ€™t re-use. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world.â€
The major air pollutants are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and lead â€“ all of which are harmful to human health. The major sources of air pollution are described below:
Household: The main culprit here is the indoor burning of fossil fuels and wood to cook, heat and light homes. Around 3.8 million premature deaths are caused by indoor air pollution each year.
Industry: Coal-burning power plants are a major contributor, while diesel generators are a growing concern. Industrial processes and solvent use, in the chemical and mining industries, also pollute the air.
Transport: Transport emissions have been linked to nearly 400,000 premature deaths. Almost half of all deaths by air pollution from transport areÂ caused by diesel emissions.
Agriculture: There are two major sources of air pollution from agriculture: livestock, which produces methane and ammonia, and the burning of agricultural waste. Around 24% of all greenhouse gases emitted worldwide come from agriculture, forestryÂ and other land-use.
Waste: Open waste burning in landfills release harmful dioxins, methane and black carbon into the atmosphere. Globally, an estimated 40% of waste is openly burned. Reducing food waste and turning organic waste into compost are two solutions.
Natural sources: Not all air pollution comes from human activity. Volcanic eruptions and dust storms also cause problems.
Â Tips to beat air pollution
The American Lung Association encourages people to get involved in the fight for cleaner, healthier air. Here are some simple, effective tips for protecting you and your family from the dangers of air pollution:
- Check daily air pollution forecasts in your area.
- Avoid exercising outdoors whenÂ pollution levels are high. When the air is bad, walk indoors in a shopping mall or gym or use an exercise machine. Always avoid exercisingÂ near high-traffic areas.
- Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the air quality is unhealthy.
- Use less energy in your home. Generating electricity and other sources of energy creates air pollution. Turn off lights and electronics not in use. Buy energy-efficient appliances.
- Encourage your childâ€™s school to reduce exposure to school bus emissions.
- Walk, cycle or carpool. Combine trips. Use buses, metro rail system or other alternatives to driving your car.
- Donâ€™t burn wood or trash.Â Burning firewoodand trash are among the major sources of particle pollution (soot).
- Donâ€™t allow anyone to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public placesÂ tobacco-free.
- Segregate trash so that organic waste can be composted and non-organic waste can be recycled.
Air pollution is preventable, and the solutions are there. Letâ€™s show the world that the time to act isÂ now.
Sources: www.un.org, www.worldenvironmentday.global, www.downtoearth.org.in, www.lung.org