It doesn’t take a genius or a position paper to figure out that air pollution in cities and near industrial zones is toxic to human health. But now that it’s got an officially bad status with the United Nations, up there with asbestos and 100 other killer chemicals, maybe governments and cities will listen.
According the United Nations (UN) body, the World Health Organization (WHO) the air we breath should now be classified as carcinogenic and dangerous to human life.
It is now ranked in Group 1 of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the WHO organization that tracks cancer rates around the world. Particulate matter, the dark or white dust you wipe off your window sill, is a particular concern for lung cancer. Air pollution, indoor and out, now joins the bad list of cancerous materials like asbestos (for mesothelioma), plutonium, silica dust, tobacco smoke and UV radiation.
Air pollution is caused from a variety of sources in cities. Car and bus fumes, and particulate matter are especially toxic, as are fumes and emissions from power plants, cooking fuel, and any industry nearby that may be releasing emissions. I’ve been choked up in Bangkok but some of the worst air pollution I’ve felt in the Middle East region is in Amman, Jordan – also most recently voted as one of the ugliest cities in the world. While I’ve never been to Tehran, I am not sure I would like to: some 27 people a day die in the Iranian city from choking fumes.
The dangers vary from one region to the next but the WHO says all regions of the world are affected by poor air quality at some level.
How can we stop emissions? Riding bikes, electric buses, walking. As well as greener sources of cooking fuel and residential heating.