Air pollution is one of the greatest threat to the future of mankind, according to various organizations and most notably the WHO. The leading body on health has warned that the simple routine of breathing is killing millions on people every year and crippling thousands more with numerous respiratory diseases.
More than 90% of the world population breathes in contaminated air and scientific research on an everyday basis is revealing the ill effects this problem is having on the younger generation especially the children.
“The world has turned the corner on tobacco. Now it must do the same for the ‘new tobacco’- the toxic air that billions breathe every day,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s Director General. It had been publicly put out that no one can escape this silent health emergency.
Tedros also added,
“Despite this epidemic of needless, preventable deaths and disability, a smog of complacency pervades the planet. “This is a defining moment and we must scale up action to urgently respond to this challenge.”
The WHO, in an attempt to tackle the problem of air pollution, is organising its first ever conference on air pollution and health in Geneva on a global platform that will include different countries making strategic promises to cut down on this world epidemic.
The young ones and specially babies are the most vulnerable from contaminated air, said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment, with approximately 300 million living in areas where these fumes are 10 times higher than the given limit.
These affected children have been linked with respiratory diseases, damaged intelligence and cancer.
“We have to ask what we our doing to our children, and the answer I am afraid is shockingly clear: we are polluting their future, and this is very worrying for all us.”
Dr Tedros stated:
“A clean and healthy environment is the single most important precondition for ensuring good health, by cleaning up the air we breathe, we can prevent or at least reduce some of the greatest health risks”.
The WHO has teamed up with professionals from the health industry to help them come up with evidence to go along with crucial political decisions for example discarding fossil-fuel energy and transportations.
“No person, group, city, country or region can solve the problem alone”
“We need strong commitments and actions from everyone.”
In the United Kingdom, most areas that have urban housing suffer with the problem of high levels of air pollution. The current contingency plan laid out by the UK government has been called “Shameful” by environmental lawyers, who made it clear that the problem of toxic air levels is much worse than previously feared.
With smoking on the decline, toxic air nowadays takes more lives as compared to smoking. Health professionals are of the view that problems such as heart attacks and respiratory diseases is just the beginning to something more devastating that would follow in the near future if the air pollution problem is not taken care of.
The death of 7 million people is just a wild guess, it may be way more than 10 million if we were to include other forms of air pollution such as particle pollution.
Daniel Krewski, a team member at the University of Ottawa said that:
“This suggests that outdoor air pollution is an even more important risk factor for health than previously thought.”
Each passing day sees newspapers showing how this air is harming the lives around us with further revelation showing that millions of diabetes cases have been detected and the first real presence of pollution particles in women’s placentas.
The scenario of bad health and pollution related death has caused a heavy financial burden on the world economy, a few trillion dollars as per the World Bank reports. Addressing air pollution as something grave, the only way to save humans and this planet is to tackle this problem head-on before it escalates and it is too late.
“People responsible for causing this mess cannot plead innocent in 20 years that they did not know, that were clueless when the people who have suffered drag them to court. Everyone knows the consequences and it is out in the open that this is a problem that can be avoided at all costs and for that we need to work collectively and in a very dramatic and an urgent way.”