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“A toxic relationship…”

“A toxic relationship…” 19 May 2017

Air pollution and climate change: a toxic relationship (via Acclimatise)

By Caroline Fouvet

Each year, 600,000 children under five years old die because of air pollution. Central heating boilers, motor vehicles and industrial facilities are all significant contributors to dirty air. The problem is costing money and lives, especially in built up areas, and it may be further compounded by climate change.

Air pollution is often understood as a visible phenomenon – with dense smog engulfing urban centres. However, for the most part air pollutants do not form smog, and the tiny, makes them invisible. Vulnerable citizens, such as older people and children are extremely sensitive to air pollution and are often among its first victims.

The impact of air pollution on health places a substantial economic burden on society. In developing countries, for instance, air pollution results in premature deaths in the young working age population and in Sub–Saharan Africa, annual labour income losses induced by air pollution amount to 0.61% of GDP. In developed countries, the cost of sick days and emergency care caused by air pollution is considerable.

Unless action is taken to reduce air pollution, the health impacts are likely to increase in severity, as the climate warms. Warmer temperatures can lead to an intensification of particulate concentrations at ground level, especially in cities. Heat and sunlight react with chemical particles such as diesel soot and gases such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the air. This leads to the formation of ground–level ozone gas, both a harmful air pollutant and a component of smog.  The expected increased number of warmer and stagnant days will facilitate the phenomenon and worsen its impact on people’s health.

Read more via Acclimatise…