- Air Pollution Deadlier Than Smoking or Alcohol
- Funding Gap for Air Pollution Control
- South Asia’s Worsening Air Pollution Crisis
A Tuesday study found that air pollution is more harmful to the average person than smoking or drinking. The threat is worsening in South Asia, the global epicenter of air pollution, while China is making rapid improvements.
Yet, according to research from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the amount of money allocated to address the problem is a fraction of the amount designated for combating infectious diseases.
According to its annual Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, fine particulate air pollution — which originates from vehicle and industrial emissions, wildfires, and other sources — remains the “greatest external threat to global health.”
According to the data, which has a 2021 cutoff, the average person’s life expectancy would increase by 2.3 years if the world were to permanently reduce these pollutants to satisfy the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline limit.
Fine particulate matter is associated with respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and cancer. Child and maternal malnutrition affects global life expectancy by 1,6 years, whereas tobacco use reduces it by 2,2.
Asia and Africa have the least infrastructure for providing timely, accurate data to citizens yet the highest load. In addition, they receive minuscule portions of an already modest global philanthropic budget.
For instance, Africa as a continent receives less than $300,000 to combat air pollution.
The EPIC director of air quality programmes, Christa Hasenkopf, told AFP, “Air pollution is drastically different. And where we collectively and globally deploy resources to solve the problem.”
No organisation fights air pollution like the Global Fund, which spends $4 billion annually on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Bangladesh ranks first
South Asia is the most affected region globally. Based on annualised, population-weighted PM2.5 averages, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan are the most polluted countries. Which is defined as particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less and detected by satellites.
The AQLI metric calculates the impact of air pollution concentrations on life expectancy using peer-reviewed methodologies.
Residents of Bangladesh, where average PM2.5 levels were 74 micrograms per cubic meter, would gain 6.8 years of life if these levels were reduced to 5 micrograms per cubic meter, by WHO recommendations.
From 2013 to 2021, the city’s air pollution decreased by 42,3%. If the advancements continue, the average Chinese citizen’s life expectancy will increase by 2,2 years.
However, the escalating risk of wildfires, which is linked to rising temperatures and drier conditions as a result of climate change, is causing pollution increases throughout the western United States, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
During the historic California wildfire season of 2021, the average concentration of fine particulate matter in Plumas County was more than five times the WHO guideline.
Europe and North America have experienced comparable reductions in air pollution over the past few decades, but there are stark disparities between Western and Eastern Europe, with Bosnia being the most polluted nation on the continent.