Saturday, 16 January 2021

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The “Invisible Killer” and its 7 million victims

air quality UN Photo Kibae Park 002

21 October 2016 – 7 million people die every year, taken by the same “invisible killer”: the air that we breathe. Urbanisation, industrialisation, transport, and chemical goods have transformed our oxygen into a poisonous substance.

These polluting factors have all been discussed in the recent Habitat III  Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, in Quito. This came at a crucial time, as it is predicted that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. The Conference was to adopt the The New Urban Agenda that rethinks the way we build, manage, and live in cities.

In order to bring the dangers of air pollution to the attention of the public sector, private sector, and the population in general, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the Norwegian Government made the campaign "Breathe Life".

This campaign pushes for the implementation of better practices in towns that will lead to a decrease in air pollution, such as putting eco-friendly transport in place, using less pollutant energy systems, or even through better management of waste materials.

BreatheLife infographic1 HR1

According to WHO, 92% of the world’s population live in areas where the air quality doesn’t respect the required limits, and only 1 in 10 people are breathing clean air.

Out of the 7 million people that have died due to illnesses relating to air pollution, 4.3 million are due to the pollution that takes place indoors, and 3.7 million outdoors. Overall, 12% of the deaths in the world are related to this pollution that particularly affects women, children, and old people.

In Europe, even if the air quality has improved these past decades thanks to a decrease of numerous polluting jobs, still 600,000 deaths per year can be linked to air pollution. That kind of pollution’s cost amounts to $1,600 billion a year.

In Africa, air kills more people than water or malnutrition.

The levels of air pollution in urban areas tend to be higher in low-income cities. The reasons are simple: swift industrial development, few binding environmental laws, and very polluting vehicle fleet are the main contributors to air polluting. In Africa, air pollution kills more people than water pollution or malnutrition.  Every year, it causes 712,000 deaths and represents a $447 billion economic loss, according to a recent report from OECD .

The main objective of the campaign is to reduce the number deaths linked to air pollution by half  by 2030, the year of the deadline for the completion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted by the 193 UN member States in September 2015.

More information on the “invisible killer



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