The World Health Organization (WHO) brings a new air quality model to light which shows 92% of people are exposed to levels of air pollution that are greater than is generally considered safe by WHO.
I’m gonna channel Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids for a sec: “It is scarrryyyy.”
The photo shows where the most polluted air is using measurements from satellite technology. This is to date the most detailed air quality information from WHO.
“It Is a Public Health Emergency”
This data is considered to be the most currently accurate evidence based on new measuring methods for air pollution taken both nationally and globally. According to WHO, these alarming numbers warrant the need for genuine concern and action about the impact of air pollution on chronic disease and death around the world.
Dr. Maria Neira, Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO, states: “Air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, and affects economies and people’s quality of life; it is a public health emergency.”
3 Million Deaths a Year
Dr. Neria goes on to say that outdoor air pollution alone is responsible for the deaths of 3 million people every year. Previous research from WHO claims “air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk”. These new results confirm the significance our world’s air quality has on human life.
Other research from the International Energy Agency estimates that 6.5 million deaths every year can be linked to both indoor and outdoor air pollution.
The majority of these deaths (94% to be exact) can be linked to heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and infections, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As we’re all aware, heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
WHO cautions that the greatest risk rests in compounds such as sulphates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, and mineral dust, with particles being 10 μm (or .000393701 inch in diameter) being the most dangerous. This is on account of the fact that particles of this size can physically enter the lungs and remain there.
What Can We Do?
WHO calls for more research to provide even more data to better understand our air quality and the impact it has on our health. The majority of the people in our world are breathing air that’s below the minimum standards for WHO’s air safety, with South East Asia and the Western Pacific regions being highly affected.
However, you have more of a personal impact on global air quality than you think. It drives me nuts when people say, “Why get upset about something you can’t change?” Because you do have the power to change it!
Just like buying meat at the supermarket, you make a direct impact on the world you live in and don’t ever think for a second that that’s not true.
So here’s what’s up:
Stop using so much energy. Just turn the damn lights off.
Stop driving, start biking. I know this isn’t feasible for many people, but if you can do it—do it!
Stop buying chemicals. Anything you find at your supermarket is bound to be tested on animals and full of synthetic chemicals and fragrances. Go natural. And no, I don’t mean buying stuff that’s advertised as “green”. I mean buying stuff that’s not even advertised as a cleaning product.
For example, vinegar is an excellent disinfectant. Repel ants and bugs with essential oils. Wash your dishes and your clothes with a natural soap like Dr. Bronner’s. And of course, only run your dishwasher and washing machine when full.
Of course this new information from WHO is alarming, and you should be concerned. We can all make small differences for the world that we live in. Learn more about our air quality and download the complete document from WHO here.