Sadly, we now live in a world where air pollution has become the norm. Despite our best efforts to stop it, pollution levels all over the world are increasing at a rapid pace, and we’re left thinking just how harmful this phenomenon is to our health and our future. Such concerns are entirely justified, as scientists agree that air pollution is a major cause for disease and death.
Cities like Beijing, Delhi or Mexico City have attracted more global media attraction than the rest of the world, because in their cases, the crippling air pollution is downright deadly. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
A new report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 80% of the world’s urban population is currently living in areas that do not meat standards set by WHO. It stress that “while all the regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income regions are the most impacted.”
WHO found that “98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%.”
The health effects on air pollution have been the subject of many studies over the years, each of those studies showing how this phenomenon contributes to a large number of premature deaths every year.
In its report, WHO draws attention the dangers people living in polluted areas face: “as urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.”
Global awareness of this issue has been raised constantly, but it is ultimately in the hands of the government policymakers to address and try to solve this problem. Policies that propose a transition to cleaner energy sources such as solar panels and that encourage walking and cycling as a eco-friendly alternative to cars are important steps to be taken if we want to counteract this life-threatening phenomenon and live in safer environments.