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 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
- 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
- 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.
- 25% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions is contributed by transport sector.
- 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
- Open waste burning in landfills release harmful dioxins, furans, methane, and fine particulate matter like black carbon into the atmosphere.
- 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)
- Air pollution collectively reduced life expectancy by 1 year, 8 months on an average.
- 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
- 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.