When I was in school, my good friend Ankur told me something very interesting. He said students in the American School in Delhi had an advisory not to come out in the morning between 8-10 AM and in the evening between 4-6 PM. He remarked that it was because of the pollution on the streets and the school he claimed believed that pollution affected the development of the children. I never went on to verify these claims and accepted them as maybe the norm.
So it is no surprise today that a WHO report says that 92% of humanity is actually very dangerous air. While they refer mostly to the outdoor air, what the report also says that indoor air is equally bad mostly due to wood fire.
In map released by the report, apart from NA, Australia, Argentina, Northern Europe and East Russia most of the planet has polluted air. The situation is worse in Western Pacific Belt and South East Asia. Parts of Europe are affected due to usage of diesel and ammonia in the farms.
The sir quality model measures particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers or PM 2.5. Just to give you an estimate the diameter of a strand of hair is about 50 micrometers. Also important are organic particulate matter like pollen, mold etc which are SM 10 in size. Danger these particles pose is that they can enter the blood stream and reach the brain. Their size aiding this movement. Thats what makes them very hazardous.
“Rich countries are getting much better in improving the quality of the air,” Dr Carlos Dora from the WHO told the Associated Press. So not surprisingly
Turkmenistan is the worst country in terms of air quality, followed by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Egypt. 6 million people die every year due to air pollution. China has been doing well economically but the air quality over the cities is very poor.
I am sure India is no better and in a follow up piece I intend to look at the air quality over the Indian cities and see how we can get better at this. There are many diseases affected by air quality including asthma, Bronchitis, COPD, Lung infection among others. In a country already choked by lack of healthcare infrastructure, this is a hazard that we can ill afford.