Air Pollution Causes More Than 6 Million Deaths Worldwide
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[Air Pollution Causes More Than 6 Million Deaths Worldwide]
[Christiane Amanpour:] Source: LYBIO.net
Christiane Amanpour back with the global perspective where America meets the world. And this week we are talking about something that effects practically everyone on this planet, air pollution both indoors and outdoors. And it kills, prematurely kills more than 6 million people a year. That is huge. Unfortunately, we only ever pay attention to it in the most extreme cases such as what we’ve been seeing in Beijing, China over the last several weeks. This dark, gloomy, soupy air that people have literally had to wear face masks to try to protect themselves and ABCs Gloria Riviera has our reporter now from Beijing.
[Gloria Riviera:] Source: LYBIO.net
Here in China in Beijing, they are breathing deeply for the first time under blue skies after more than three weeks of pollution that averaged about 300 on the air quality index that’s about 280 points over what the World Health Organization says is good clean air. China’s air pollution problem is due the same kinds of things that produce bad air around the world. Its factories going full tilt 24/7 to maintain the explosive economic growth this country is experienced for over a decade. Also with the growing middle class there are millions of first time car owners on the road, both of those things are happening without the proper environmental standards in place. There is cautious optimism here in China. For the first time in Beijing officials issued an emergency warning, telling people to stay inside and ordering about a third of all government vehicles off the road.
Joining me now to discuss this terrible situation in Beijing and air pollution around the world is Dr. Maria Neira, she is the Director of the Department of Public Health and the Environment at the World Health Organization and she is joining me from their headquarters in Geneva.
Dr. Neira, thank you for joining me. So apart from what we’ve seen in places like China and India, what are the other places that are most concerned regarding air quality.
[Dr. Maria Neira:]
We don’t have a ranking of cities. Why, first because many of the cities around the world, in particular or even those who are expected to have a high levels of pollution. They don’t have regular or routine system to monitor air quality. Therefore our first recommendation will be for all big cities around the world to initiate this monitoring of air quality and then, being able to measure that and too much indicate just with the help of the people and the health gains that you can obtain or the health damage that you can cause if you have high levels of air pollution.
Around the world, how would you describe the air quality right now? Is it generally good or is it generally bad?
[Dr. Maria Neira:]
For emerging economies, I think it’s still a big challenge and there are still many interventions that can be put in place to reduce that high levels of air pollution and in developing countries, it’s a major problem, particularly because of pollution is caused by indirect pollution, by household pollution, by the fact that the people in developing countries they are still using solid fuels for heating and cooking and this is contributing to air pollution. In general we can say that according to the latest report published that we calculate that 3.3 million pre-mature deaths every year are caused by outdoor air pollution and 3.5 million deaths, premature deaths can be associated to household air pollution.
And finally, is the whole issue of the environment climate change, does that also impact this idea of outdoor air pollution?
[Dr. Maria Neira:] Source: LYBIO.net
Absolutely. And we know now that this short life pollutants like the black carbon, which is one of the pollutants that is contributing to the heating is a major particulate matter 2.5 so affecting and contributing to outdoor air pollution. So the good news is that if you mitigate climate change, if you are taking interventions to reduce climate change. You will have a benefit on reducing air pollution and vice versa, if you reduce air pollution, you will be contributing to fight the causes of climate change and in any case, you will be generating a lot of health benefit.
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