Air pollution is the name given to substances carried in the air that are harmful to our planet and to our health. You can’t always see it or smell it, but air pollution is a secret killer. According to a report by the Royal College of Physicians, exposure to air pollution is said to cause around 40,000 deaths in the UK every year, and more than 9,000 early deaths in London alone.
Today, the biggest source of air pollution is road traffic, and diesel is the worst of all. Road traffic produces a range of harmful pollutants including carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM).
What effect is air pollution having on your health?
Air pollution can cause some serious health problems. Exposure can increase the chance of contracting a serious illness and can make existing conditions significantly worse. Worldwide, air pollution accounts for 3 million premature deaths a year – globally that is more than malaria and HIV combined.
Air pollution increases your risk of heart disease, and is linked to a number of other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. It can cause conditions like asthma to become life threatening. It also accounts for 25% of deaths and disease caused by lung cancer and 16% of deaths caused by strokes.
This problem is worsening worldwide and is both avoidable and unnecessary, not only impacting our health but also causing a great strain on our healthcare system. Air pollution is costing £20bn a year in healthcare in the UK alone and it is said that a reduction in pollutant levels between 2010 and 2020 could result in nearly 4 million life years being saved.
What other ways can air pollution be affecting you?
Pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable – air pollution can affect the early stages of development of foetuses, increase the chances of a premature births and damage the lung development of young children
Our poorest communities are the most at risk – those living in heavily built up areas, in inner cities and near busy roads experience the most exposure to air pollution
Air pollution can also be affecting what you eat – ground level ozone can be damaging to wheat, potatoes as well as mung and soya bean crops and results in reduced food supplies
Did you know: Researchers estimate that ozone reduces wheat yields by 3% in Europe alone
With so many of us living and working in cities tackling air pollution will work to make the cities we love happier and healthier places to be. Visit our shop to find out what you can do at home and at work to help fight an air pollution epidemic.