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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Air pollution is the Biggest Danger to People’s Health Worldwide

If you think smoking or drinking is bad for your health, listen to this: A study came out on Tuesday saying dirty air or air pollution is actually more harmful. Around the world, people are at risk, especially in South Asia where the problem is getting worse. But there’s some good news—things are getting better in China.

The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) said that not much money is being saved to tackle this big problem. They said it’s much less than the money saved to fight diseases that spread easily.

The yearly report about air quality said that tiny bits of pollution in the air, from cars, factories, wildfires, and other sources, are the biggest danger to people’s health from outside.

Living longer could be possible for many of us if we follow the World Health Organization’s advice on cutting down air pollution. According to statistics that go up until 2021, bringing pollution levels down to what the health experts recommend could add roughly 2.3 more years to the average person’s life. This is a major change that could really improve our quality of life.

If you breathe in tiny pieces of dirty air pollution, you could get lung and heart problems or even cancer. Now, if we look at smoking, it usually shortens a person’s life by around 2 years. For mothers and children who don’t eat well, they could lose about 1.5 years from their lives. So, both dirty air pollution and unhealthy habits have a big impact on how long we live.

In both Asia and Africa, life can be really tough. These places struggle with a lot. Sadly, their systems for giving quick, reliable information to the public aren’t that strong. On top of this, when it comes to help from charities around the world, they get only a tiny piece of it. So, in these tough times, they’re not getting the support they truly need.

So, think about Africa. The whole big place gets under $300,000 to deal with bad air. That’s not a lot of money. They use it to try to make the air cleaner.

“The air is really dirty in some places, but we’re not putting money and effort there to make it better,” said Christa Hasenkopf, who leads the air quality work at EPIC, in an interview with AFP.

Imagine a special team called the Global Fund. Every year, they give away a whopping $4 billion to battle serious sicknesses, such as HIV, malaria, and TB. It’s a huge help for these health issues. Yet, when you look for a similar team fighting air pollution, you’ll find none. So, while some big health problems get financial support, dirty air isn’t getting that kind of attention.

The report said that in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, people lose more years of their life because of air pollution than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, or other health problems.

“Bangladesh is Number One on the List”

In every corner of the globe, it’s South Asia that grapples with the most pressing pollution challenge. Taking center stage in this region’s pollution predicament are Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, which have unfortunately earned the dubious distinction of being the top four most polluted nations. This pollution is measured by scrutinizing minuscule particles in the air, charmingly termed “fine particulate matter.” Remarkably sophisticated tools aboard satellites are employed to seek out these incredibly tiny particles, even tinier than the most petite grains of sand. Notably and regrettably, it’s these same four countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan – that boast the highest levels of these airborne minuscule particles when compared to all the other nations across the world.

Step one involves gathering data about the amount of polluted air. Next, we input this data into the AQLI tool. This special tool then works out how much the polluted air pollution can decrease people’s lifespans. It does this using methods that experts have studied and agreed upon.

In the land of Bangladesh, where the air isn’t as fresh as it should be, there’s a chance that the residents could add nearly 7 more years to their lives. How? Well, if the air quality improves to match the guidelines set by the WHO, which is like a health guru, things could change. You see, the air’s not in great shape because of something called PM2.5, a type of stuff that messes with the air. Currently, it’s pretty high, around 74, but if it can drop down to 5, just like the WHO wants, it’s possible that life could get a bit longer and healthier for the people there.

But let’s shift our focus to India, where the spotlight falls on its capital city, Delhi. This bustling metropolis has earned the unfortunate title of the “most polluted mega city across the globe.” The reason behind this label is the presence of an annual average of 126.5 micrograms of tiny, harmful particles within every cubic meter of the city’s air. It’s a concerning situation that calls for attention and action.

However, Hasenkopf said that China started working on reducing air pollution in 2014, and since then, they have made great improvements in this area.

China’s air quality took a big step towards improvement, showing a remarkable 42.3 percent drop in pollution levels from 2013 to 2021. Looking ahead, if these positive changes keep happening, it’s possible that the average person in China could have the opportunity to extend their life by approximately 2.2 years.

In the land of the United States, regulations put forth by the authorities, exemplified by the Clean Air pollution Act, have played a pivotal role in reducing pollution by an impressive 64.9% starting from 1970. This remarkable achievement not only brings a cleaner environment but also contributes to an extended lifespan of approximately 1.4 years for the American population. These noteworthy findings have been brought to light by the trusted sources at AFP.

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