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Nine out of 10 people worldwide now breathe polluted air, says UN


World Environment Day: UN warns of dangers of air pollution



Nobody is safe from air pollution, with nine out of 10 people on the planet now breathing polluted air, the United Nations (UN) warned on World Environment Day (WED).
Celebrated annually on June 5, WED is an initiative that the UN launched in an attempt to raise awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime and how to effectively combat these problems.
TheCable reports that the campaign was first held in 1974 with the theme ‘Only One Earth’.
Each year, the UN marks a different focus to commemorate the day while the country hosting the main event for the year chooses the theme for WED.
This year’s edition of the global day has ‘Beat Air Pollution’ as its theme with China as the host.
UN: NINE OUT OF 10 PEOPLE WORLDWIDE ARE EXPOSED TO AIR POLLUTANTS
In a message to mark WED, AntΓ³nio Guterres, UN secretary-general, said an estimated nine out of ten people worldwide are exposed to air pollutants that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines.
“This is lowering life expectancy and damaging economies across the planet,” he said.
“To improve air quality, we must know our enemy. Deaths and illnesses from air pollution are caused by tiny particles that penetrate our defences every time we fill our lungs. These particles come from many sources: the burning of fossil fuels for power and transport; the chemicals and mining industries; the open burning of waste; the burning of forests and fields; and the use of dirty indoor cooking and heating fuels, which are major problems in the developing world.”
Guterres noted that over 7 million people die each year from polluted air while others suffer from long term health problems, such as asthma.
“According to the World Bank, air pollution costs societies more than $5 trillion every year,” he added.
“Today, we face an equally urgent crisis. It is time to act decisively. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy.
“On World Environment Day, I ask each of us to act so we can breathe more easily. From pressuring politicians and businesses to changing our own habits, we can reduce pollution and beat climate change.”
HOW DOES AIR POLLUTION AFFECT OUR HEALTH?
Some of the pollutants we expose our physical and psychological wellbeing to affect us differently. There are many organs and bodily functions that can be harmed, the consequences including:
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Fatigue, headaches and anxiety
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Damage to reproductive organs
  • Harm to the liver, spleen and blood
  • Nervous system damage, among others
HOW CAN YOU BEAT AIR POLLUTION?
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners
  • Always turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use to conserve energy
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances
  • Participate in your local utility’s energy conservation programs
  • Use public transportation, bike or walk
  • Switch to renewables for power generation
  • Manage your waste properly
  • Advocate for emission reductions from power plants and more stringent national vehicle emission standards, among others.
WHAT TWITTER IS SAYING ABOUT WED

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