If you live in a big city you already smoke every day

Air Pollution United Nations

World Bank/Kim Eun Yeul Air pollution in Cairo, Egypt.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Alex Gray, Formative Content. The views expressed in this article belong to the author and not necessarily to The European Sting.

If you live in a big city you might have the lungs of a smoker, even if you’ve never touched a cigarette.

Scientists at Berkeley Earth have taken air pollution levels of major cities and compared them to the effects of smoking.

They found that, in some cities, the quality of the air is the equivalent to smoking more than three packets of cigarettes a day.

Image: Berkeley Earth

Air pollution

Some of the most harmful pollution consists of small particulate matter, 2.5 microns in size or less, called PM2.5. These particles are particularly dangerous because they are small enough to work their way deep into the lungs and bloodstream, where they can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma.

The level of these particles in the air is measured in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), usually in an amount that is the average over a period of a year.

According to the work of Richard A. Muller and Elizabeth A. Muller at Berkeley Earth, an air pollution level of 22µg/m3 is the equivalent of one cigarette.

Cities with the worst air pollution

Image: Berkeley Earth

The city with the worst air pollution ever recorded is Shenyang, China. In 2015, the city recorded 1400 μg/m3, equivalent to smoking 63 cigarettes per day for every man, woman, and child living there.

Air pollution levels in New Delhi, India, have been recorded at 547 μg/m3, equivalent to smoking about 25 cigarettes each day.

Levels in Europe and the US are much lower. The average in terms of cigarettes per day for China is 2.4, the EU average 1.6, and the US average 0.4.

According to an app that takes air quality measurements and compares them to cigarettes, Paris has registered 6 cigarettes a day, Los Angeles 4.3, and Tokyo 4.1.

The World Health Organization’s global ambient air pollution map puts Cairo at 3.5 cigarettes a day.

The WHO says there are 3 million deaths every year as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution. Nine in ten of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds their guideline limits.

WHO guideline limits for an annual mean of PM2.5 are 10 μg/m3. The real danger is that air pollution directly affects every age group, unlike cigarette smoking.

Tackling air pollution

In 2014, China declared a “war on pollution”. It has taken major steps to curb the pollution caused by industrial growth, such as dismantling coal-fired power plants.

It is also also investing heavily in energy-efficient buildings, smart transportation, renewable energy and many other green and low-carbon industries.

New Delhi’s air quality reached critically bad levels in November 2017, prompting the city’s doctors to declare a public health emergency. In response, the government brought forward measures aimed at slashing vehicle emissions, one of the major causes of the smog, by two years.

The Berkeley Earth report says air pollution kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria, diabetes or tuberculosis and its research come to a sobering conclusion:

“Air pollution is arguably the greatest environmental catastrophe in the world today.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Brexit: political groups discuss options for an orderly withdrawal

A very good morning in European markets

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into compensation for early closure of lignite-fired power plants in Germany

Rohingya cannot become ‘forgotten victims,’ says UN chief urging world to step up support

‘Nothing left to go back for’: UN News hears extraordinary stories of loss, and survival as Mozambique rebuilds from deadly cyclones

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

MEPs urge the EU to lead the way to net-zero emissions by 2050

Will AI make the gender gap in the workplace harder to close?

The global issue of migration in 2017

How Pakistan is aiming for a green recovery from the pandemic

NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Belgium’s €5.9 billion recovery and resilience plan

In Christchurch, UN chief calls for tolerance, solidarity to extinguish ‘wildfire’ of hate speech

Commission to invest €14.7 billion from Horizon Europe for a healthier, greener and more digital Europe

Medical students: catalysts to close the gender gap

Can autonomous cars make traffic jams a thing of the past?

Russia’s permafrost is melting and it could have a devastating global effect

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

New UN book club helps children deal with global issues

“China will strive to enhance the performance of economic growth”, President Xi highlights from the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos

Monday’s Daily Brief: US-DPRK relationship reset, ‘Horrific’ Kabul bombing, Anti-conscription plan in Syria, Climate change heat stress, Security Council in Iraq

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

European Commission Joint Research Centre opens world-class laboratories to researchers

The world condemned by neo-liberals to feed trillions to banks: the New Deal exorcised

Mergers: Commission approves the merger of Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn division, subject to conditions

What paleoecology can teach us about fires in the Amazon

The link between migration and technology is not what you think

Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

3 reasons why civil society is essential to COVID-19 recovery

Panama’s fight for a delayed right: women’s economic independence

14 innovative projects helping to save the planet and make the world a better place

Italy can stand the US rating agencies’ meaningless degrading

Scale of displacement across Myanmar ‘very difficult to gauge’, says UN refugee agency

FROM THE FIELD: Niger supporting the most vulnerable, as crises mount

6 ways least developed countries can participate in the 4IR

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

International partners pledge $1.2 billion to help cyclone-hit Mozambique recover, ‘build back better’

Commission welcomes agreement on the modernisation of EU export controls

One migrant child reported dead or missing every day, UN calls for more protection

Japan’s agro-food sector would benefit greatly from policies to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable resource use

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

5 ways to boost sustainable trade in the world’s poorest countries

The West unites against Mali desert rebels

Sweden gives all employees time off to be entrepreneurs

Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

5 surprising ways major cities are going green

“ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

More efforts needed to boost trust in business and finance

The Swiss will pay dearly for voting out fellow Europeans

Recovery effort will fizzle out quickly if there is no long-term perspective

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

Women that inspire women

Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into Broadcom and sends Statement of Objections seeking to impose interim measures in TV and modem chipsets markets

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

European Union launches WTO trade dispute against Colombia’s unfair duties on frozen fries

Inside the battle to counteract the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Where are the world’s nuclear weapons?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s