Air pollution: “a public emergency”

WHO declared that "worldwide, ambient air pollution contributes to 6.7 % of all deaths."

WHO declared that “worldwide, ambient air pollution contributes to 6.7 % of all deaths.”

Air pollution is reportedly “the single largest risk of environmental risk in Europe, responsible for more than 430,000 premature deaths.”

Speaking to the Guardian, Maria Neira, Chief of World Health Organization, declared that the air pollution is now “a public health emergency”. This could turn into a catastrophe for governments, overwhelmed by the demand of healthcare.

According to the WHO, this air pollution-related public emergency could cause a global crisis, threatening to overwhelm countries’ economies as people are killed by pollution-fuelled heart and respiratory diseases, cancers and strokes.

Polluted Europe

Air pollution is severely affecting Europe: according to UE regulations, sites can breach hourly limits of 200 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air 18 times in a year. The London neighbourhood of Putney was the first to overcome that limit for the 19th time, only eight days into 2016 – last year it only took two days.

As a consequence, the number of deaths related to air pollution in England rose from 5.1% in 2012 to 5.3% in 2013.. This fact will play a major part in the debate around the expansion of the London Heathrow Airport, recently put off by the PM David Cameron for another six months.

Pollution in China, at an all time high

In China, the situation is worrying: areas of Beijing had more than 256 micrograms per cubic metre of the poisonous particles. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers anything over 25 micrograms as unsafe. As a result, according to New York Times, pollution causes 1.6 million deaths in China every year.

For years, air pollution has been considered the unavoidable downside of economic progress. However, the situation is now changing, with political agendas increasingly addressing the matter – only last November, 195 countries met in Paris to conclude a deal to cut greenhouse emissions. The agreement has been defined “toothless” due to the lack of enforcement mechanisms, and it is hard to say now whether it will bring to any effective result or not.

What is certain, so far, is that air-pollution will greatly affect the way human beings move around the globe: before expatriating, it is always better to check what the quality of life is, in the place where you are moving to!


[Image by BBC]