Sci&Tech Writer Yankie Chow explores the global impact of increasing air pollution
With more greenhouse gases being exposed to the air, pollution is a concern across the globe. This is also becoming a question of whether our health could be impacted by increasing air pollution. These particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5, are worsening the air quality. These particles are so small that they could be ingested deep into the lungs, causing risk of hospital admissions for heart or lung diseases like acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks or respiratory symptoms.
So what health impacts does urban air pollution pose in different countries? In China, air pollution has caused over 2 million deaths per year. The air was so polluted that authorities had to close schools and ask people to work from home. Moreover, the authorities also had to order diesel off the road, so as to lower the air pollution in China. The reason contributing to the pollution of air was related to how industry, transportation, coal power plants or even some households use fuel, causing not only an alarming rate of pollution in China, but affecting the economy at the same time. China has the world’s highest air pollution levels, emitting greenhouse gases and mercury, posing a threat to global health and the world economy.
Another country suffering from air pollution is India. Delhi, the national capital in northern-central India, has been ranked as one of the most polluted major cities on the planet. The air pollution also poses risks for higher rates of lung cancer, diabetes and premature births. The problem of air pollution worsens in winter, when the air cools and traps pollutants from vehicles; the burning of agricultural waste also causes a rise in pollution. Due to the heavy air, schools had to be closed and construction was temporarily banned. Apart from how human actions cause part of the problem in pollution, geological factors contribute as well. Delhi is bordered by the Himalayas, which block the movement of air. They cause an updraft, lifting smog in summer, then the morning mist traps particles during winter. Without the circulation of air, the dust and smoke accumulates and remains, causing the increase in pollution.
So, what steps could be taken in solving the problem? In China, the authorities have made a step in solving the problem by electrifying all buses, to reduce hefty air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions nationally. For Delhi, the authorities have also been solving the problem through similar solutions, by introducing the Delhi metro and electric bus service to curb vehicle emissions.
Even though these countries which are heavily affected by air pollution have made changes or implemented acts to help improve the air quality and also the health of citizens, there is still a long way to go.
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