In 2013, a nine-year-old from South Circular Road in Lewisham, United Kingdom, passed away from an asthma attack. She had a rare type of acute asthma and was particularly sensitive to the toxic gases and particles in air pollution, according to the BBC. In the verdict made by Philip Barlow, he stated that the cause was “multi-factorial” as this incident was a result of both genes and the environment. The child was exposed to excessive levels of air pollution, particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO2). It was found out that in the area where she lived, the levels of NO2 surpassed the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union (EU). In December 2020, the Southwark Coroner’s Court in London announced that air pollution was the cause of the child’s death.
How many people die from air pollution?
Unfortunately, her case is not the only one. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed the WHO limits. Consequently, about 7 million people around the globe die every year from breathing polluted air. To be precise, 4.2 million of these deaths are due to the exposure to outdoor pollution that is emitted by burning fossil fuels, whereas 3.8 million are caused by indoor pollution that stems from cookstoves and fuels. For these reasons, you can say that air pollution is a “silent” or “invisible” killer.
What are the consequences of air pollution?
Burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil not only leads to the production of greenhouse gases and, as a consequence, causes climate change. It also releases tiny poisonous particles known as PM2.5, which are 30 times smaller than the diameter of most human hair. Inhaling these particles can lead to a variety of short-term and long-term health problems.
The short-term ones include
- irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin
In the long-run, air pollution can lead to
- the worsening of respiratory conditions such as asthma
- lung cancer
- coronary heart disease
- premature death
If nothing changes, the air quality will become so bad that we will have difficulties breathing the air and experience personal discomfort – an issue that is already felt by billions of people in China and other Asian countries.
How can we reduce air pollution?
Every little effort by every person can make a significant improvement to the air quality. One way is to choose alternative modes of transport such as taking public transport or riding the bike instead of using the car. Furthermore, indoor air pollution can be decreased by reducing energy consumption or using energy-saving electronic appliances.
As we are very passionate about environmental issues like these, we came up with a solution that is particularly effective for cities. We developed living green walls that are modular, lightweight, and require little maintenance. As a result, our solution is cost-effective and thus, easy to implement at a large scale. Therefore, Epiclay green walls help to reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution, as well as increase the energy efficiency of buildings. With our solution, we can hopefully prevent more tragic deaths like the one from the nine-year-old.
- Air pollution – World Health Organization
- Every Day 10,000 People Die Due To Air Pollution From Fossil Fuels – Forbes
- Fossil fuel air pollution causes almost 1 in 5 deaths globally each year – CNN
- Air pollution death ruling: What comes next? – BBC
- ‘Invisible killer’: fossil fuels caused 8.7m deaths globally in 2018, research finds – The Guardian
- Air pollution – National Geographic Society
- Possible Things To Happen If We Don’t Stop Air Pollution – airpollution.in