In recent times, industrialization and technological society have caused an increase in particulate air pollution. Our world is a place with increasing environmental challenges; we now experience health problems in drinking water, and consequences such as the greenhouse effect or climate change, and environmental pollution in general.
Particulate air pollution is a risk of great magnitude, especially if we take into account its influence on the health of the world’s inhabitants.
A study by environmental engineers and public health researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas has recently been published; in which it is concluded that air pollution reduces life expectancy globally by more than a year.
This is a shocking fact that gives an idea of the consequences, sometimes not very visible at first. In the study mentioned above, samples of airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns were collected in 185 countries and the national impact on life expectancy for each country individually, as well as on a global scale, was quantified.
Risk Groups And Causes Of Particulate Air Pollution
The most important sources of particulate air pollution are an inefficient use of energy in homes, industry, the agriculture and transportation sectors, and coal-fired power plants.
Air pollution affects in different ways in the short and long term, and the negative effects are more prone to groups such as children, the elderly, or people who are already affected by a previous disease (especially women).
This group is the most affected by pollution generated indoors, since, according to the WHO, 40% of the world’s population does not have access to kitchen technology and/or clean lighting.
In fact, the WHO analyzes on this fact states that indoor air pollution caused by solid fuels causes:
- 950,000 annual deaths from COPD,
- 255,000 annual deaths from lung cancer,
- more than 510,000 annual deaths from pneumonia,
- 1.4 million deaths annually from stroke and
- more than 1.1 million deaths annually from myocardial infarctions.
More than 90% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.
However, the urban data are equally worrisome, among large cities, especially those with metropolitan areas of more than 14 million inhabitants.
Remember that this problem is not limited only to certain areas of our planet; according to data from 2016, 91% of the world’s population lived in places where the WHO Guidelines on air quality were not respected.
7 Simple, Effective Tips For Protecting You And Your Family From The Dangers Of Particulate Air Pollution
- Form the habit of checking the daily air pollution forecasts in your area. Use the color-coded forecasts that can let you know when the air is unhealthy in your community. Watch TV weather reports, check newspapers, and check online at airnow.gov.
- Try as much as possible to avoid outdoor activities when pollution levels are high. When the air is bad, you can carry out your exercising indoors; walk indoors, use the gym, or use an exercise machine. Similarly, limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the forecast suggests that air quality is unhealthy.
- Always avoid exercising near industrial or high-traffic areas. Even when air quality forecasts are safe. The industrial machines and vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels over a long-distance away.
- Minimize energy use in your home. Producing electricity and other sources of energy creates air pollution. However, by reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, and save money! Read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s easy tips for conserving energy at home.
- Drive your car less, take a walk, use a bike or buses, subways, light rail systems, commuter trains, or other alternatives.
- Stop the habit of burning wood and trash; these two are among the major sources of particle air pollution (soot).
- Plant some
Air Purifying Plantsaround your household and office.
- Don’t allow any member of your household to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public places smoking-free.
Get involved, help yourself and everyone else to breathe healthier, and support efforts to clean up sources of pollution. Our lives and that of our loved ones may depend on it.