World Environment Day 2019: Air Pollution

May 29, 2019 | Michelle Shapiro

World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. Since it began in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that draws attention to a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2019 is “Air pollution”.

The World Environment Day website explains the five main causes of air pollution:

Household

The main source of household air pollution is the indoor burning of fossil fuels, wood and other biomass-based fuels to cook, heat and light homes. Around 3.8 million premature deaths are caused by indoor air pollution each year, the vast majority of them in the developing world.

Out of 193 countries, 97 countries have increased the percentage of households that have access to cleaner burning fuels to over 85 percent. However, 3 billion people continue to use solid fuels and open fires for cooking, heating, and lighting. The adoption of cleaner, more modern stoves and fuels can reduce the risks of illness and save lives.

Industry

In many countries, energy production is a leading source of air pollution. Coal-burning power plants are a major contributor, while diesel generators are a growing concern in off-grid areas. Industrial processes and solvent use, in the chemical and mining industries, also pollute the air.

Policies and programmes aimed at increasing energy efficiency and production from renewable sources have a direct impact on a country’s air quality. At the moment, 82 countries out of 193 have incentives that promote investment in renewable energy production, cleaner production, energy efficiency and pollution control.

Transport

The global transport sector accounts for almost one-quarter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and this proportion is rising. Transport emissions have been linked to nearly 400,000 premature deaths. Almost half of all deaths by air pollution from transport are caused by diesel emissions, while those living closest to major traffic arteries are up to 12 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

Reducing vehicle emissions is an important intervention to improve air quality, especially in urban areas. Policies and standards that require the use of cleaner fuels and advanced vehicle emissions standards can reduce vehicle emissions by 90 percent or more.

Agriculture

There are two major sources of air pollution from agriculture: livestock, which produces methane and ammonia, and the burning of agricultural waste. Methane emissions contribute to ground-level ozone, which causes asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Methane is also a more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide – its impact is 34 times greater over a 100-year period. Around 24 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted worldwide come agriculture, forestry and other land-use.

There are many ways to reduce air pollution from this source. People can move to a plant-based diet and/or reduce food waste, while farmers can reduce methane from livestock by optimizing feed digestibility and improving grazing and grassland management.

Waste

Open waste burning and organic waste in landfills release harmful dioxins, furans, methane, and black carbon into the atmosphere. Globally, an estimated 40 percent of waste is openly burned. The problem is most severe in urbanizing regions and developing countries. Open burning of agricultural and municipal waste is practiced in 166 out of 193 countries.

Improving the collection, separation, and disposal of solid waste reduces the amount of waste that is burned or landfilled. Separating organic waste and turning it into compost or bioenergy improves soil fertility and provides an alternative energy source. Reducing the estimated one-third of all food that is lost or wasted can also improve air quality.


636530147572900000

About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro was formerly a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

More posts by Michelle Shapiro

Related Posts

Climate Ready Workforce web
  • Tools & Resources Climate Change Rural and Frontier Health Rural Health

New Guide to Building a Climate-Ready Rural Workforce

Practical guide supports rural health departments in their efforts to build a...

Jul 15, 2024 | Nikita Kheni

New Guide to Building a Climate-Ready Rural Workforce

Hurricane
  • Tools & Resources Community Health Emergency Response Extreme Weather

Top Tips for Mosquito Control During a Hurricane Crisis

An infographic from NACCHO based on takeaways from our 2024 Vector Control...

Jul 12, 2024 | Angana Roy

Top Tips for Mosquito Control During a Hurricane Crisis

Ci  Cancer
  • Chronic Disease

CDC/ATSDR Hosts Cancer Moonshot Community Conversations

Enhancing Understanding of Environmental Exposures in Cancer by Strengthening...

Jul 03, 2024 | Anu Varma

CDC/ATSDR Hosts Cancer Moonshot Community Conversations

Scbclogo 0
  • Tools & Resources

EPA Announces $250,000 to Winners of the Small...

Congratulations to all local health departments that won this funding...

Jun 24, 2024 | Anu Varma

EPA Announces $250,000 to Winners of the Small...

California Drought Under New Melones Bridge on Dry Lakebed stock photo
  • Tools & Resources

Resource Roundup on Public Health Impacts of Drought

A blog by NACCHO staff in observance of World Day to Combat Desertification and...

Jun 17, 2024 | Nikita Kheni, Rebecca Rainey

Resource Roundup on Public Health Impacts of Drought

16343314 Diverse Group Of People

CDC Workshop on Applied Epidemiology and Environmental...

Discuss innovative epidemiologic methods and how they can be applied to...

Jun 12, 2024

CDC Workshop on Applied Epidemiology and Environmental...

Ci  Resources  Guy Working On Laptop
  • Funding Opportunity Model Aquatic Health Code Opportunity

Scholarship Opportunity: CMAHC Aquatic Venue Public...

We’re offering limited scholarships for LHDs to attend MAHC: Aquatic Venue...

Jun 10, 2024 | Deise Galan

Scholarship Opportunity: CMAHC Aquatic Venue Public...

I Stock 1410976365
  • Tools & Resources Community Health Community Resilience Extreme Weather

CDC’s New Heat and Health Index Released

See CDC’s latest tool intended to improve the nation’s ability to stay safe...

May 31, 2024 | Anu Varma

CDC’s New Heat and Health Index Released

Swimming Pool Instructor
  • Model Aquatic Health Code Water Quality

Implementing the Model Aquatic Health Code at the Local...

A full recount of Colorado’s Pueblo County health department’s MAHC adoption...

May 23, 2024 | Rebecca Rainey

Implementing the Model Aquatic Health Code at the Local...

Back to Top