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AIR POLLUTION AND GLOBAL HEALTH



  Jun 25, 2024

AIR POLLUTION AND GLOBAL HEALTH



Air pollution has become a significant health crisis, contributing to the deaths of nearly 2,000 children every day. According to the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute, air pollution is now the second leading risk factor for early death globally.

Key Findings:

1. Global Mortality:
• Air pollution was linked to 8.1 million deaths in 2021, accounting for approximately 12% of all global fatalities.
• It has surpassed tobacco use and poor diet, now only behind high blood pressure as the leading risk factor for early death.

2. Impact on Children:
• Over 700,000 children under the age of five died due to air pollution-related health issues in 2021.
• More than 500,000 of these deaths were linked to indoor cooking with dirty fuels like coal, wood, or dung, predominantly in Africa and Asia.

3. Vulnerability and Solutions:
• Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.
• Health experts emphasize that solutions to these problems are known and achievable.

4. Pollution Exposure:
• The report highlights that almost everyone in the world breathes unhealthy levels of air pollution daily.
• Over 90% of the deaths were associated with fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause lung cancer, heart disease, and other health issues.

5. Potential Underestimation:
• The report may underestimate the full impact of air pollution as it does not account for its effects on brain health, neurodegenerative diseases, or the impact of using solid fuels for heating.

Detailed Aspects:

• Health Effects on Children:
• Respiratory Issues:
Children exposed to air pollution suffer from increased rates of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.
• Developmental Problems: Long-term exposure can impair cognitive development and lead to other developmental delays.

• Premature Births: Pregnant women exposed to high levels of pollution are more likely to give birth prematurely, leading to various health complications for newborns.

• Sources of Air Pollution:
• Industrial Emissions: Factories and power plants release large quantities of pollutants into the air.
• Vehicle Emissions: Cars, trucks, and buses emit harmful gases and particulate matter.
• Household Pollutants: Indoor pollution from cooking with dirty fuels is a significant contributor, especially in developing countries.

• Health Risks of PM2.5:
• Lung Cancer: Fine particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause cancer.
• Heart Disease: PM2.5 increases the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
• Other Health Issues: Exposure can also lead to diabetes, stroke, and respiratory diseases.


• Global Efforts and Solutions:
• Regulations and Policies: Stricter air quality standards and regulations can help reduce emissions.
• Cleaner Fuels: Transitioning to cleaner cooking fuels and renewable energy sources can significantly reduce indoor air pollution.
• Public Awareness: Educating the public about the dangers of air pollution and promoting behavioral changes.

Conclusion

Air pollution poses a severe health risk, particularly to young children, and has become a leading cause of early death worldwide. Addressing this crisis requires global cooperation and the implementation of known solutions to reduce emissions and exposure.


SRIRAM’s
 
 


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