Over 90 percent of the world’s population is breathing unhealthy air, according to the Global Air Report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI). After smoking, high blood pressure & poor nutrition, air pollution is the fourth highest cause of death worldwide with most of the deaths occurring in developing nations.
The polluted air may contain different particles that cannot be seen with naked eye, some are very tiny, small enough to enter the bloodstream through the lungs. PM2.5 particles includes pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates & black carbon and have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is almost 3% the diameter of a human hair. They can only be detected with an electron microscope. Exposure to such particles can cause short term health effects such as sneezing, coughing, running nose, throat & lung irritation, and breathing issues.
Approximately, around 10 million people die globally due to ambient air pollution, mainly from stroke, lung cancer, heart disease & acute respiratory infections. Also, it reduces life expectancy by an average of around 1.8 years, making it more harmful than smoking.
According to a report by Greenpeace organization, cities in India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh were ranked in the top 30 on a list of the world’s most polluted cities in 2018. The list was dominated by Indian cities with 22 of the top 30 spots.