News on Wellness

Air Pollution Caused 3.7 Million Premature Deaths: WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently made a shocking assessment that outdoor air pollution cities and rural areas are the reason for 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.

Most of those premature deaths were in the WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions. 88% of them were in low-income and middle-income countries.
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Estimates show that about 80% of such deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 14% were due to chronic pulmonary disease or lower respiratory system infections and 6% due to lung cancer.

Recent International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) research says that outdoor air pollution is closely associated with increased cancer incidence, especially lung cancer. An association between ambient and increase in urinary tract/bladder cancer has also been observed.

Major rural and peri-urban outdoor air pollution sources include emissions from biomass energy systems, household coal, agricultural waste incineration, forest fires and agro-forestry activities such as charcoal production.

Such mortality due to cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers is caused by exposure to small particulate matter which are 10 microns or less in diameter.

Urban outdoor air pollution can be reduced by policies for energy-efficient housing, cleaner transport, better municipal waste management and power generation.

Most of the measures to check outdoor air pollution like energy waste management, transport, buildings and agriculture require actions by policymakers from cities to international level. Few examples of successful policies are:

· Industry:
using clean technologies, use of biogas (methane from waste)

· Transport:
promoting rapid urban as well as interurban transit, low-emissions vehicles, using fuels with reduced sulfur content.

· Urban
planning: improving energy efficiency of buildings and also of cities by making them more compact.

· Power
generation: use of low-emissions fuels. Use of solar, wind or hydropower.
Distributed energy generation like rooftop solar plant and mini-grids.

· Waste
management: strategies for waste separation, waste reduction, recycling and waste reprocessing. strict emission controls for incineration of solid waste.

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