Air pollution is more dangerous to health than smoking, alcohol or poor diet.

According to a study cited by Euronews, air pollution poses a greater threat to global health than smoking, alcohol, dirty water or even malnourished children. “Particulate air pollution remains the largest global external risk to human health,” according to a report released by the University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute (EPIC). Despite this, the funds allocated for combating air pollution represent only a small part of the funds allocated, for example, for the fight against infectious diseases.

Fine particles are formed as a result of fires, industrial activities and vehicles. They are carcinogenic and increase the risk of lung disease, heart disease, and stroke.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 36% of lung cancers are associated with these emissions, as are 34% of strokes and 27% of heart disease. Based on data collected in 2021, EPIC estimates that reaching the WHO fine particle exposure threshold will increase life expectancy worldwide by 2.3 years.

Eastern Europe is more prone to air pollution than its Western neighbors

“98.4% of countries in Europe still do not meet the new WHO recommendations for 5 µg/m3,” the report says.

In general, air quality in Europe has improved over the past decades. But all these efforts are threatened, among other things, by the growing number of wildfires around the world, caused by rising temperatures and more frequent climate change-related droughts, which are causing a sharp increase in air pollution.

But in Europe, the situation is changing: “Eastern Europeans live 7.2 months less than their neighbors in the West due to more polluted air,” EPIC scientists say.

The Po Valley in northern Italy is an example of a heavily polluted area. The life expectancy of residents could increase by 1.6 years if pollution levels were in line with WHO recommendations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina remains the most polluted country in Europe, where people lose 1.8 years of their lives.

Six countries absorb three quarters of global air pollution.

Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Indonesia are the most affected countries. Their inhabitants “lose from one to more than six years of life because of the air they breathe,” the report explains.

New Delhi remains the most polluted metropolitan area in the world, with an average annual level of fine particulate matter exceeding 126.5 µg/m3. WHO recommends keeping air quality below 5 µg/m3.

China, on the other hand, is working on air quality. Between 2013 and 2021, the average level of pollution decreased by 42.3%. “The average Chinese citizen can expect to live 2.2 years longer if the decline is sustained. However, pollution levels in China are still six times higher than recommended by the WHO,” the EPIC report said.

Several international measures to combat air pollution

What doesn’t improve the situation, according to EPIC scientists, is that many polluted countries lack basic infrastructure to deal with air pollution.

To Asia and Africa, “92.7% of life years lost due to pollution, yet only 6.8% and 3.7% of governments in Asia and Africa, respectively, provide fully open air quality data to their citizens.”

Although the Global Fund spends 3.7 billion euros to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, there is no such international plan to combat air pollution. Yet air pollution is more deadly for people living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Cameroon than HIV, malaria or other diseases.

Source link

Leave a Comment