Around 7 million people die each year from air pollution.
A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the impact of air pollution is far greater than previously believed. Around 7 million premature deaths in 2012 were attributed to air pollution – that's one in eight of total global deaths that year.
The studies reveal that both indoor and outdoor air pollution are strongly linked to cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and strokes, infectious diseases, such as respiratory diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and even cancer.
These shocking reports are an indicator of how vital it is to take climate change seriously. With new developments in data analysis, organisations are able to more accurately determine the damaging effects of climate change, and the results are frightening.
Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.
Among the groups most at risk from air pollution - especially indoor pollution - are women, children and the elderly. Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children's Health says, “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves."
Millions of lives could be saved each year if we drastically reduce air pollution, on a personal level as well as an industrial level. “Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains," says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
While findings like this are scary, it's important not to be overwhelmed by the size of the problem but instead to be empowered by knowledge. The first step is knowledge, the next step is action and with each choice we make, each dollar we spend, each person we tell we are creating change one piece at a time.
Thanks to the World Health Organization for this info.