How have you been affected by air pollution?

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air pollution

Outdoor air pollution caused three million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.

Don’t you know?

The European Commission has told the UK to clean up its air. Levels of nitrogen dioxide – which is linked to heart and lung disease and contributes to the early deaths of 40,000 people a year in the UK – are particularly bad.

The five most-developed countries in the EU (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK) are all in breach of the recommended limits and have been given two months to take action.

Does air quality matter?

Yes of course.

The World Health Organisation(WHO) is confident that, if we reduce air pollution, it would cut rates of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and respiratory disease.

The vast majority of us are breathing sub-standard air. Yet change is possible. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), between 1970 and 2015, there was a long-term decrease in UK emissions of all air pollutants (ammonia, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and sulphur dioxide).

What about indoor air pollution?

Indoor air pollution is a major health problem for the 3 billion people globally who use solid fuels such as wood and charcoal in cooking and heating, especially if their homes are poorly ventilated.

Are babies at risk?

Air pollution has a small but significant impact on pregnancy and the health of babies and young children, according to a report from UCLA. It is not as bad as smoking during pregnancy or near your newborn baby. But developing lungs are more susceptible to the damaging effects of air pollution and further study into the effects on pregnant women and infants are needed, says the report.

What should we do?

Maybe we can cycle more and plant trees? Or get heavy industry out of cities, increase the efficiency of heating (and cooling) by properly insulating buildings, and remove as many polluting vehicles as possible from the roads.

For indoor air pollution is also important the maintenance of ventilation systems.

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