About World Environment Day

About World Environment Day

  • World Environment Day is the largest celebration of environment started in 1974.
  • It is celebrated on 5 June every year to spread awareness about the importance of environment and measure to be adopted to save it.
  • UNEP provides leadership and encourages partnership among governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations to save the environment.



In focus: Air Pollution


  • The menace of air pollution is gaining increasing attention around the world recently.
  • The 1st ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health was held in October 2018.
  • Air pollution was listed in the top 10 Global Health Threats identified by WHO in 2019.
  • According to UNEP 9 out of 10 people in the world are breathing polluted air.


Sources of Air pollution

Household pollution

  • Household air pollution results in an estimated 3.8 million premature deaths every year.
  • Main cause is anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels, wood and biomass to cook, heat and light homes.
  • About 3 billion people use solid fuels and kerosene for cooking, heating, and lighting.
  • Household air pollution is also an important source of ambient air pollution contributing 12% of global PM2.5 to ambient air.

Ambient Air pollution

Sources are both anthropogenic and natural.

  • In urban settings, the main sources are
  • Fossil fuel combustion for energy production
  • Transport
  • Residential cooking
  • Heating and waste incineration
  • In rural communities
  • Household burning of kerosene,
  • Biomass and coal for cooking, heating and lighting,
  • Agricultural waste incineration
  • Agro-forestry activities
  • Pollutants include
  • Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), lead, arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and particulate matter (PM), tropospheric ozone


Sector-wise sources

  1. Industry
  • Energy sector driven by coal-fired power plants is the leading source of air pollution followed by chemical and mining industries, also pollute the air.
  1. Transport
  • 25% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions is contributed by transport sector.
  1. Agriculture
  • The major sources of air pollution from agriculture include livestock, which produces methane and ammonia, rice paddies, which produce methane, and the burning of agricultural waste.
  • Methane emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone
  1. Waste
  • Open waste burning in landfills release harmful dioxins, furans, methane, and fine particulate matter like black carbon into the atmosphere.
  1. Other sources
  • Volcanic eruptions, dust storms


Health Impact of air pollution

Mortality and disease burden

  • Air pollution is the 5th leading risk factor for mortality worldwide.
  • According to WHO, about 7 million deaths occur due to air pollution every year.
  • About 4.2 million deaths are due to ambient air pollution and 3.8 deaths are due to household air pollution.
  • Air pollution accounted for 147 million years of healthy life lost (5.9% of all DALYs globally) in 2017.
  • The 5 countries with the highest mortality burden include
  • China (1.2 million)
  • India (1.2 million)
  • Pakistan (128,000)
  • Indonesia (124,000)
  • Bangladesh (123,000)

Life expectancy

  • Air pollution collectively reduced life expectancy by 1 year, 8 months on an average.

Health effects

  • Non communicable diseases
  • About 82% of the diseases due to air pollution are chronic non-communicable diseases.
  • Air pollution accounts for
  • 41% of global deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • 20% of deaths from type 2 diabetes
  • 19% of deaths from lung cancer
  • 16% of deaths from isch­emic heart disease
  • 11% of deaths from stroke
  • Communicable diseases
    • Air pollution also contributes to communicable disease about 35% of deaths from lower-respiratory infection.
  • Ambient air pollution
    • PM 2.5 exposure causes ischemic heart disease, cerebro-vascular dis­ease, lung cancer, COPD, lower-respiratory infections like pneumonia.
    • Third leading cause for type 2 diabetes
    • Asthma
    • Low birth weight and pre-term birth
    • Neurological disorders such as Alzheimers disease
  • Household air pollution
    • Cardiovascular disease (ischemic heart disease and stroke), COPD, Acute lower-respiratory infections, Lung cancer, Cataract.
    • Increases the risk of ‘otitis media’
    • Defective neurodevelopment, lower cognitive abilities, and behavioural disorders such as autism etc.


Section : Environment & Ecology