Does air pollution harm human health?

Pollution in the air we breathe can lead to various serious health consequences, from respiratory diseases, through heart disease, to stroke. This “silent killer,” warns the World Health Organization (WHO), is responsible for about seven million premature deaths a year, mostly in developing countries. Reducing air pollution helps prevent disease and premature death, but also indirectly ensure economic stability and protect the environment, according to the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). Air pollutants enter the human body through the respiratory system and lungs, and some of them reach the bloodstream, from where they reach other internal organs and damage them.

Prolonged exposure to polluted air can cause or worsen ischemic (coronary) heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, as well as respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It also weakens the immune system and reduces resistance to infections. Air pollution also increases the risk of pneumonia and is responsible for the deaths of nearly a million children under the age of five each year. Children and the elderly, as well as people with pre-existing diseases, are more susceptible to the negative effects of air pollution than other categories of the population.

For example:

• Each liter of gasoline consumed emits 2.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Average, a car with a tank capacity of 45 liters emits 117 kilograms of CO2

• Since today traffic is an industry that produces huge amounts of hazardous substances, as technology advances day by day, in the future it is expected that 80% of the population will drive an electric car, which will greatly affect to reduce hazardous substances in the air and improve the quality of life.

• One year of using plastic bags: annual production of carbon dioxide 146kg.

• One year of using three standard bulbs: annual production of 135 kg of carbon dioxide.

• One year of household waste: annual carbon dioxide production 1400 kg.

Air quality is significantly worse when the presence of suspended particles increases, which can cause weather troubles and disasters, such as a large number of fires during summer months, or floods during the fall and winter months. Also, to the significant increase in the concentration of pollutants in the ground layer of the atmosphere is due to bad weather conditions in terms of air quality such as temperature inversions, silence, high atmospheric pressure and absence of precipitation.

How do big cities solve the problem of air pollution?

• In Brussels, which is the peak of pollution, the speed of vehicles in the city is limited to 50 kilometers per hour on all roads, including those on who in other cities are usually allowed to cross 70 kilometers in an hour. These measures are accompanied by free public transport services.

• London has the same problem, which has introduced an “urban trap” in the center as a solution for the city, except at night and on weekends, which made it possible to reduce the number by 70,000 cars in the British capital.

• Other cities, such as Milan in Italy, have introduced this measure, thanks to which traffic in the city center is reduced by an average of 14 to 22 %.