UN warns that Air Pollution Still a Major Threat to the Environment and People

Around 90% of people breathe dirty air on a daily basis, according to the United Nations, which has been called the most pressing health issue of our day. On the occasion of the first International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, which falls on September 7, UN News outlines how severe the situation is and what is being done to address it.

We all know that air pollution kills millions of people and destroys the environment. Air pollution may have faded from the front pages of newspapers in recent months, but it remains a serious threat to many: it causes heart disease, lung disease, lung cancer, and strokes, and is believed to be responsible for one out of every nine premature deaths, or roughly seven million per year.

Our natural environment is also harmed by air pollution. It reduces the amount of oxygen in our oceans, makes plant growth more difficult, and contributes to climate change.

Despite the damage it causes, there is troubling evidence that air pollution is not regarded as a top priority in many countries. According to the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) first-ever review of air quality laws, over 43% of nations lack a legal definition for air pollution, and nearly a third of them have yet to implement legally mandated outdoor air quality standards.

Agriculture, transport, industry, trash, and residences are all responsible for the majority of air pollution.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas produced by agricultural activities and cattle, is a cause of asthma and other respiratory ailments. Methane is also produced as a by-product of garbage burning, which also produces other harmful pollutants that enter the food chain. Meanwhile, significant amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulate pollution, and chemicals are released by industry.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died prematurely as a result of transportation, despite the completion of August’s global phase-out of harmful leaded petrol. Senior UN officials, including the Secretary-General, praised the achievement, saying it will avoid roughly one million premature lives per year. Vehicles, on the other hand, continue to spew fine particulate matter, ozone, black carbon, and nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere; treating health disorders caused by air pollution is estimated to cost $1 trillion per year globally.

While the fact that these behaviors are hazardous to health and the environment should come as no surprise, some individuals may be astonished to find that households are responsible for around 4.3 million fatalities each year. This is due to the fact that many households use inefficient stoves and open fires inside their houses, which emit hazardous particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, and mercury.

The United Nations is now sounding the alarm about this issue since proof of the impacts of air pollution on humans is growing. Air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, dementia, poor cognitive development, and lower intelligence levels in recent years.

Furthermore, it has been related to cardiovascular and respiratory problems for many years.

Concerns about this form of pollution go hand in hand with increased global action to address the climate crisis: this is both an environmental and health concern, and steps to clean up the skies would go a long way toward decreasing global warming. Depleted soil and waterways, endangered freshwater sources, and poorer agriculture yields are some of the other negative environmental consequences.

The United Nations is calling on governments to do more to reduce air pollution and enhance air quality on International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies.

Implementing integrated air quality and climate change policies, phasing out petrol and diesel cars, and promising to minimize waste sector emissions are all examples of specific initiatives they may take.

Businesses may help by promising to decrease and eventually eliminate waste, converting to low-emission or electric vehicles for their fleets, and finding ways to reduce air pollution emissions from their facilities and supply chains.

Individually, as the harmful cost of household activities demonstrates, we may achieve a lot if we change our habits.

Using public transit, cycling, or walking; minimizing household waste and composting; eating less meat by adapting to a plant-based diet, and conserving electricity are all examples of simple measures.

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