Our starter's quide to air pollution
By Muntaka Chasant | 517 words | Reading time: 2 min
What is Air Pollution?
Air pollution is the contamination of air by gasses and solid particles.1 Key pollutants that are known to cause a variety of adverse health effects include particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO). Sources of these pollutants include vehicle emissions, open-field burning, industry, and dust.2
Air pollutants are only visible to the naked eye in some situations - large dust particles, smoke from open flames, vehicle emissions, soot from indoor burning of solid fuels, etc. For most cases, the particles are too tiny to be detected by human eye.
Indoor air pollution, also known as Household Air Pollution (HAP), is just as deadly as outdoor air pollution. Out of the roughly 7 million people who die prematurely worldwide every year from air pollution, close to 4 million are due to the breathing in of toxic smoke from the use of inefficient cooking stoves paired with solid fuels indoors.3 More than 64,000 premature deaths in Nigeria in 2016 were attributable to indoor air pollution.4
Why should I be concerned about air pollution?
Air pollution is a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide, causing about 24% of all adult deaths from heart disease, 29% from lung cancer, 25% from stroke, and 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), World Health Organization (WHO) estimates show.5
WHO's recent data shows that about 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air.6 If you live in a big city, especially in a developing country, you should be concerned about the quality of the air you breathe.
More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in developing countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. Air pollution is causes about 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year, with children, women and the elderly worst affected.7
Africa is projected to account for more than half of the world’s population by 2050.8 This expected increase in population in Africa and rapid urbanization is likely to increase morbidity and mortality from air pollution in the coming decades.
Lack of air quality assessments and loose pollution controls are likely to worsen the air quality situations in many developing cities in the years ahead.
Are city authorities doing enough to curb urban air pollution?
Not in many developing cities, it appears. While the data shows cities are now taking actions to curb urban air pollution, many cities in Africa, for instance, are still not measuring the air they breathe. Data on annual PM2.5 and PM10 exposure levels were available in only 8 of 47 countries in Africa.9
Developing countries including Ghana and Nigeria do not regularly measure and report the air they breathe. Without data showing national or international air quality standards are being breached, there will be no urge for city officials to act on pollution levels. That is why the AirMask & Textiles Company is dedicated to channeling 30% of every anti-pollution face mask sold to a special fund which will be used to help communities affected by air pollution to set up low-cost air quality monitoring stations.
Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
1. http://www.searo.who.int/topics/air_pollution/what-is-air-pollution.pdf?ua=1 (Retrieved October, 2018) ↩
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK368029/ (Retrieved October, 2018)↩
3. http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/02-05-2018-9-out-of-10-people-worldwide-breathe-polluted-air-but-more-countries-are-taking-action (Retrieved October, 2018)↩
4. https://www.stateofglobalair.org/data/#/health/plot (Retrieved October, 2018)↩
5. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/02-05-2018-9-out-of-10-people-worldwide-breathe-polluted-air-but-more-countries-are-taking-action (Retrieved October, 2018)↩
6. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/02-05-2018-9-out-of-10-people-worldwide-breathe-polluted-air-but-more-countries-are-taking-action (Retrieved October, 2018)↩
7. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/02-05-2018-9-out-of-10-people-worldwide-breathe-polluted-air-but-more-countries-are-taking-action (Retrieved October, 2018) ↩
8. https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/2015-report.html (Retrieved October, 2018)↩
9. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2018/05/90-per-cent-of-the-planet-is-breathing-in-polluted-air-world-health-organization/ (Retrieved October, 2018)↩