Coping with labor and deliver
October 24, 2016
Are routine scans necessary in pregnancy?
November 1, 2016

Air Pollution the invisible silent killer in Africa

A colleague alerted me to a recent study on air pollution in Nairobi and Africa. He asked that I find a way to inform Policy makers, Lawmakers and other people high in Government to this invisible silent killer.

The report shows grim statistics. The first major attempt to calculate both the human and financial cost of the continent’s pollution suggests dirty air could be killing 712,000 people a year prematurely, compared with approximately 542,000 from unsafe water, 275,000 from malnutrition and 391,000 from unsafe sanitation.Africa’s air pollution could develop into a health and climate crisis reminiscent of those seen in China and India.

Air pollution remains a major silent invisible killer. With 23 per cent of global deaths (12.6 million) linked to environmental factors, WHO estimates that air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths every year.

Air pollution is caused by harmful particulates and gases, released in high quantities into the air. These pollutants cause disease and death to humans, damage to other living organisms such as animals and food crops, and harm our ecosystems. Air pollution is caused by indoor and outdoor activities though the latter, which is largely a result of burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and to power vehicles, is responsible for most of the world’s air pollution. Large and small scale industrial activities also cause air pollution by emitting substances into the air, which are harmful to human health and are the root cause of many of the respiratory diseases and cancers in humans.

Air pollutants include black carbon and greenhouse gases, one of which is carbon dioxide (CO2), a common component of vehicle exhaust emissions. Greenhouse gases cause global warming by trapping heat from the sun in the earth's atmosphere. CO2 is a good indicator of how much fossil fuel is burned and how many pollutants are emitted as a result. The burning of charcoal used for cooking in homes also produces black carbon and another gas, carbon monoxide, which is extremely dangerous and is a major cause of death in many households.

WHO officials compared the effects of indoor air pollution to the global burden caused by tobacco and unsafe sex. The four million deaths per year is more than AIDS-related deaths, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to WHO data.

The study author notes“It is striking that air pollution costs in Africa are rising in spite of slow industrialization, and even de-industrialization in many countries. Should this latter trend successfully be reversed, the air pollution challenge would worsen faster, unless radically new approaches and technologies were put to use.

Take a fertility test today

Comments are closed.