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Air pollution is not a new problem. The London smog of 1952 killed an estimated 12,000 people, and in response to it, a Clean Air Act was passed in the UK in 1956 to introduce a number of measures to combat air pollution.
Over the years, similar acts and laws have been passed on a global, transnational and national level, and awareness about the health, environmental and economic impacts on humans and society is growing stronger among the general public, especially in the world’s major cities.
City people and vulnerable groups most at risk
More than half of the world’s population lives in cities today and the international watchdog of public health – the World Health Organization (WHO) – has reported that 80 percent1) of these urban dwellers are being exposed to air so poor in quality that it exceeds current health safety limits. With urban air pollution on the rise, city dwellers need to pay more attention to the quality and content of the air they breathe.
This polluted air consists mostly of high concentrations of small and fine particulate matter (termed “PM”). Being the greatest environmental risk to health today, it causes several million premature deaths worldwide every year and increases the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and respiratory ailments, including asthma.
Although air pollution is harmful to everyone, it is the health of the most vulnerable groups in society that is jeopardized the most: sick people, the elderly, children and people from more unprivileged areas. Over our lifetime, exposure to air pollution has health effects at every stage in life, from being in the womb during pregnancy to old age. The damage can be gradual and not be evident for many years. Children living in highly polluted areas, for instance, are four times more likely to have reduced lung function in adulthood.
Air pollution – a high-cost item
A price tag on air pollution’s health risks has been put in a groundbreaking study from WHO and OECD in 2015. A staggering USD 1.6 trillion was the economic cost of the approximately 600,000 premature deaths and disease caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010. The amount is nearly equivalent to one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire European Union in 2013. The study was the first assessment of the economic burden of outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the region.
A more future-oriented report released by the OECD in 2016, “The Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution”, forecasts that outdoor air pollution alone could potentially cause 6-9 million premature deaths a year by 2060 and cost 1% of global GDP (approximately USD 2.6 trillion annually), due to sick days and medical bills, if proper action is not taken.
Public awareness on the rise
The fact that air pollution is transboundary makes international cooperation a necessity and it is equally important to spread awareness globally. Air pollution monitoring, Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ), diesel restrictions and regulations imposed by governments and organizations help spread awareness. Grass-root initiatives by clothing designers and artists around the world are also making the public more “air aware” today.
Product no.: Air Image Sensor
Smart air quality sensor
Product no.: CamCleaner City S
Air Purifier for office and home use
Product no.: CamCleaner City M
Air Purifier for office and public space use
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