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Think twice, it is not another day in paradise: Air is deadlier than we thought it is!

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Bobby Ramakant - CNS

We all have a human right to breathe in CLEAN air, not disease-and-death causing polluted air!
We all have a human right to breathe in CLEAN air, not disease-and-death causing polluted air!
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While we observe World Lung Day, let us also pay heed to the latest policy guidelines on one of the major preventable risk factors of deadliest of lung diseases: air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its latest Air Quality Guidelines that after rigorous scientific review has lowered the maximum upper limit of six top deadly air pollutants. After thorough scientific analysis of all data emerging from around the world, the latest WHO Air Quality Guidelines has slashed the maximum upper cap on each of these deadly pollutants, compared to the maximum limit set 16 years ago (as per the 2005 WHO Air Quality Guidelines).

These six air pollutants are: Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 micrometer (microns), PM 10 micrometer (microns), Ozone, Sulphur Di-Oxide, Nitrogen Di-Oxide, and Carbon Monoxide.

Air pollution kills over 7 million people every year

The latest WHO Air Quality Guidelines provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the world's biggest killers, and air pollution is among the preventable causes of CVDs. Lung cancer is the deadliest of cancers, and no surprise that air pollution is among the preventable causes of it.

The WHO confirmed that every year, air pollution causes 7 million untimely deaths and results in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of untimely death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking.

That is why the latest WHO 2021 Air Quality Guidelines recommend new air-quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing maximum levels of the six lethal air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.

According to the 2021 WHO Air Quality Guidelines, PM2.5 maximum levels are 5 (yearly average), which is half of what it was set as per the 2005 WHO guidelines.

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