Are you one of those urban dwellers?
Air quality has been improving over time in many cities. For example, Japan is almost synonymous with clean air. But unfortunately, while some places are getting better, more others are getting worse, especially as a larger percentage of humanity is moving to urban areas every year. Let’s just see the fact: air pollution now kills more people every year than malaria and AIDS combined and that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution now the world’s biggest environmental health risk with 7 million deaths per year.
The WHO has created database that contains results of ambient (outdoor) air pollution monitoring from almost 1600 cities in 91 countries. The results are rather alarming. Only 12% of the people living in cities that are reporting on air quality comply with WHO air quality guidelines. About 50% of the cities monitored have air pollution that is at least 2.5 times higher than the levels WHO considers safe. The main factors are the usual suspects: fossil fuels, like coal plants and oil-powered vehicles, as well as biomass for cooking and heating.
The solutions to air quality problems are all things that we’ve been talking about: More energy efficient buildings, more public transport and less vehicles, more solar power and less fossil fuels, more trees and less concrete surfaces. We all know about these, but we are not efficient to implement the measures. If we really take care of our own health, it’s time for us to take the action seriously.