Air pollution: How to end the deaths of 7 million people per year?

air pollutions

(Anne Nygård, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Małgorzata Malingiewicz, a second-year Medical Student at the Medical Univeristy in Wrocław, Poland. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Is our atmosphere killing us? On the basis of constantly appearing new studies and epidemiological reports  we can definitely answer „yes”. The harm done by air pollution leads to the deaths of 7 million people per year, due to such reasons as lung cancers (29%), acute lower respiratory infections (17%), strokes (24%) and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (43%). We can also be affected by neurological disorders and reduction  of human capital (for example academic performance) as a result of chronic exposure to traffic-related pollutants. The statistics are still increasing and air pollution can double the quantity of excess deaths a year  in Europe than has been estimated previously, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.

The question is, how to stop it?

From an early age we hear in schools some rules about being eco. But how many of us knows the real reason why we should do it? A great part of the society has not got ecological awareness. We need activities that would inspire a higher level of it. Firstly, people must realise what is the purpose to prevent air pollution.

Let’s switch threats into facts – we don’t need statements like „global warming will kill us!”. People should hear  and read that we have ash in the air and because of that in the few years we won’t be able to do a jogging.

It is because of air pollution  for which we all bear responsibility. We all bear responsibility for plastic in oceans killing animals, for neonates’ deaths embedded in acute respiratory infection and for devastating nature around us. After explaining reasons why should we change we can focus on how can we do it. Changing our habits
is the only way to reversing negative actions we have adopted in our modern lifestyles.

First of all we need to concentrate about not wasting materials and clothes. Manufacturing the same products the second time is much less-energy intensive and polluting compared to creating the new one. This table shows the advantages of recycling:

pollution

International Journal of Science published a study that highlighted that 22 percent of premature deaths caused by air pollution have place in countries that produce cheap goods for export to developed countries. These things are not expensive because there are not or there are lacking emission restrictions in these regions. Before we buy think twice if we really need a new item.

Road transportation is one of the biggest emitters of nitrogen oxides. We can easily reduce the number of cars on the road choosing public transportation or taking a walk. For example Vienna mentions that every person who switches to public transport prevents 1,500 kg of carbon dioxide from being released into the air each year.

One day around 10,000 litters of air is using by your lungs to take part of the most important metabolic processes in your body. Share your habits how to prevent air pollution and build network of environmentally-aware consumer which can stop the deaths of over 7 million people per year.

Sources

https://www.wienerlinien.at/eportal3/ep/channelView.do/pageTypeId/66533/channelId/-4001438

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587002/

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP4869

https://www.who.int/airpollution/ambient/health-impacts/en/

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-03/esoc-apc030819.php

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2196238-does-air-pollution-really-kill-nearly-9-million-people-each-yearz

About the author

Małgorzata Malingiewicz is a second-year Medical Student at the Medical Univeristy in Wrocław, Poland. She is keen on a social project which can improve one’s daily life and helps to develop one’s ambitions and scientific road.

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