Asia's Poor Air Quality is Cause For Concern
Quite a few countries and cities in Asia are struggling with air quality and thus potentially causing a myriad of health implications to residents. Air pollution is a global health problem and according to the World Health Organization, 4.2 million deaths every year are a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution. 91 per cent of the world's population lives in areas where air pollutants exceed WHO guideline limits. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says a third of deaths from lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.
Beijing has such poor air quality that, for most people, this can mean breathing in chemicals and pollutants regularly. This is despite the Chinese Government actively working to improve the overall air quality through a range of policy changes. In the global context, China's pollution problem is particularly severe. In 2016 approximately 1.6 million deaths were attributed to pollution. Back in 2014, the country introduced an ultra-low emissions policy that targeted sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and particulate matter (fine airborne particles) in an attempt to bring down air pollution levels. A newly published study adds to the growing body of evidence that air pollution has particularly negative health effects on pregnant women and their fetuses. The paper published in Nature Sustainability presented the findings from five Chinese universities that examined the rate of silent or missed miscarriages in the first trimester, which can occur in up to 15 percent of pregnancies. Clinical records of 255,668 pregnant women from 2009 to 2017 in Beijing were studied while assessing exposure to air pollution at home and at work. According to the study, 17,497, or 6.8 percent of women experienced missed or silent miscarriages in their first trimester and the researchers found the probability of missed miscarriages increased with higher concentrations of air pollutants.
Recently, the air quality index figures in Delhi reached 339. A safe level is considered anything between zero and 50. The Government's efforts to address the air quality problem in Delhi have not been successful to date. India's Supreme Court has said the world is "laughing at India" over its air pollution issues and failure to act in an impactful way. The court came down heavily on federal and state governments over the issues according to a report by the BBC. The air quality has been so poor that flights have been cancelled in recent months, with schools and construction sites closed, as people have struggled to breathe.
Pakistan is experiencing levels of air pollution that are so detrimental Amnesty International has called for its supporters around the world to campaign on behalf of the people of the Pakistani city of Lahore. According to Amnesty International, there are major concerns about how the poor air quality poses a risk to the health of every person in the Pakistani city of more than 10 million people. The air quality index figures in Lahore reached 598 at 12pm on the 21st of November last year, highlighting that this is indeed a huge problem for citizens.
While these recordings were taken across Asia, recently we highlighted similar - though perhaps not so severe - findings right across Europe. This demonstrates to us as a global monitoring system provider that air pollution is affecting the entire planet. It also reminds us of the importance of correct policy-making to ensure air quality improves. This is the key for citizens' health as we embark on a new decade.
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