Let’s face it, death can come at us at every moment, including when we are driving, eating, or even just leisurely sitting around, having fun with friends and family. According to National Safety Council, more than 5,000 people died from choking in 2015. However, when asked what is the primary cause of death, traffic accidents and murders might be the ones taking the spotlight, seeing that they made headlines of various newspapers everyday. The thing is, they are not.
Another deadly phenomenon that poses even higher risks to causing one’s life-expectancy to reduce, or even results in death, is an occurrence that we might be getting used to seeing: pollution. The Association for Safe International Road Travel in their Road Crash Statistics states that nearly 1.3 million deaths each year are caused by road crashes. Nevertheless, Global Burden of Disease Project mentions that over 5.5 million people worldwide dies prematurely due to air pollution, and that is only air pollution. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has given a statement in a report, saying that environmental pollution kills 1.7 million children in the span of one year. Just how bad is the pollution around us, exactly?
Figure 2. Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/2d/0b/76/2d0b76fab6e881dc968246ca3ac68a57.jpg
Kids in London have to wear masks to avoid being directly harmed further by the air pollution from traffics; smokes have engulfed a portion of China, particularly the metropolis of Beijing, driving some families to leave the city for a healthier environment, and a few days ago, the city of Barcelona plans to ban cars older than 20 years-old from the roads to cut traffic in order to lessen the air pollution; smog, also known as the black cloud, has been looming over the skies of Cairo for more two decades, and that is caused by farmers piling up straws before burning them altogether. Therefore, we now know that pollution is not simply a problem in two to five mega-cities; it is a problem of the world.
What can pollution do to us? Inhaling the polluted air may increase the risk for various respiratory diseases, mainly asthma. The lung is most likely harmed after hours of exposure to the polluted air, and this can cause internal inflammations. Worst of all, a substance named carcinogen can reside in the unclean air and water, and that substance can cause that one disease that everybody fears: cancer. In a polluted environment, let’s say water, animals can drink the water, become sick, and then if those animals are served into palatable dishes to us, we just might suffer from numerous diseases. From the immune system to reproductive systems, our body is highly susceptible to health problems caused by polluted environments. In the case of children, since their immune systems are still developing, they are even more vulnerable to the detrimental effects caused by smokes and unclean water; in fact, that 1.7 million deaths published by WHO accounts for a quarter of the worldwide deaths for children under five.
Figure 3. Source: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1445132/images/o-CHINA-SMOG-facebook.jpg
WHO health expert, Maria Neira, says to improve water quality and using cleaner fuels are necessary to improve the situation, resulting in health benefits, she believes that the government should facilitate the policies against pollution to make the cities safer for children, and we cannot agree more. When stepping outside only to be greeted by stinging smokes, going to the riverside to see brown, black waters with plastics floating around, the world seems to be an entirely different planet, and we sure don’t want that.
What do you think about this astonishing revelation? Should resolving the issues of pollution be the government’s primary priority at the moment? Let us know in the comments below!