The future of the world population is at stake and pollution is the culprit. That’s what the World Health Organization (WHO) says in a report with dreadful data on children and pollution. 93% of population under 15 years old are breathing an air so polluted that their health and development are in peril.
According to the document published at the First Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, held early in November in Geneva (Switzerland), the situation already affects 1.8 billion children in the world.
The WHO estimated that, over the course of 2016, 600 thousand children died of respiratory infections caused by polluted air. The organization further notes that air pollution is a threat even greater to children under 5 years of age: it accounts for 10% of deaths in that age bracket. Regarding the planet’s overall population, air pollution kills at least 7 million people every year and harms the health of more than 3 billion.
In addition to direct risks, air pollution leads to problems for a healthy future of our species. The problem affects pregnant women, making it hard for the fetus to gain weight, increasing the chances of premature births. Pollution is a risk factor for the development of the brain in these children and for the onset of chronic heart diseases, respiratory problems and cancers - the main cause of human deaths according to the organization data.
The report highlights the finding that not only environment pollution, but also household pollution may cause large-scale health problems. This means that, in addition to the pollution generated by the burning of fossil fuels by the industry and transportation, the use of coal, timber and paraffin for heating, baking and lighting in households, in special in developing countries, all have great impact on the health of infantile population.
How to combat pollution: five highly efficient solutions
In its report, the WHO lists five urgent measures the planet should take to change this picture. “The solutions are a basic public health agenda that will have plenty of benefits for public health and the environment. No matter what else, we know we need to decarbonize our society sooner rather than later, and the benefits of that for our health and our economy are indisputable,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO director of public health and the environment to British newspaper The Guardian. Check the five measures.
1. Generate Low Emission Energy
The burning of fossil fuels alone is a problem when it comes to global warming. In addition to being the main factor of climate change, this burning releases a great amount of pollution particles in the atmosphere and leads to a risk of intoxication for the population neighboring the plants.
2. Urban Planning and Proper Transportation Management
Many big cities around the world suffer with the fossil fuel-driven vehicles transportation system. This is a major problem in São Paulo, for example, one of the world’s biggest cities, where 73% of polluting emissions are caused by private vehicles, which transport only 30% of people.
3. Higher Energy Efficiency in the Household
O relatório identificou que o uso inadequado de produtos como carvão, madeira e parafina para produzir aquecimento e/ou alimentação dentro de casa pode trazer consequências graves à saúde de seus moradores. Redes de energia elétrica seguras e a preços acessíveis são uma solução.
4. Deforestation Control
Increased deforestation and wildfire have a great impact in atmospheric pollution. The Amazon, for example, influences the air quality of all South America: a study conducted on-site shows that forest degradation affects mainly the Northern region of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, but it also extends to São Paulo, in Brazil’s Southeast.
5. Better Waste Management
In most places of the world, there is no proper urban waste management, albeit heavy investment has been made in the sector. Improper destination of litter and waste that could be recycled worsens air conditions, also affecting the planet quality of soils, rivers and oceans.
Published 17 December 2018