Air pollution is becoming the new normal as air quality stoops slowly and consistently. Lifestyles with a byproduct as air pollution are being adopted unknowingly as our societies reach the pinnacle of technology and convenience. Mostly the causes for air pollution are vehicular emissions, industrial pollution, domestic smoke, wildfires, crop fires etc. Many home products are minor to medium air pollutants. In the past many reports connecting air pollution and health diseases have been published. Many of these reports categorise the elderly and children as the most vulnerable to air pollution.
A comprehensive new study, examining potential health risks from low levels of air pollution exposure in 68.5 million older Americans was published by Health Effects Institute. Reporting risks of mortality, including at the lowest levels of exposure to fine particulate matter (pm2.5) even below current U S National Ambient Air Quality Standards(NAAQS).
The study assessing adverse health effects of long- term exposure was carried out by Prof. F. Dominici and her team for four long years. The team reported a 6% to 8% increased risk of mortality among the people who were exposed to air with extra 10 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) of PM2.5. The report was reviewed by the HEI Low-Exposure Epidemiology Studies Review Panel to confirm the conclusions. As per HEI’s latest Global Burden of Disease – Major Air Pollution Sources report, a major source of PM2.5 comes from the burning of fossil fuels, accounting for more than 1 million deaths globally.
America’s current annual national standard of 12 µg/m3 is about to be reviewed by the EPA. This level is higher than WHO’s recommendation. The findings from Prof. Dominici & Team’s report suggests that 143,257 deaths could have been prevented between 2006 and 2016 if the national air pollution standard would have been stricter.
Although air pollution has been declining over the past few decades in many higher income countries, several studies published in the past decade have reported greater risk of mortality & long- term exposures to low concentration of air pollutants.
As per India’s Central Pollution Control Board the air pollution standard for healthy air quality is 50µg/m3. This level is 5 times more than the recommended levels by WHO. The AQI in many parts of India cross these national standards every day. The Findings of the report by Prof. Dominici & Co. are to be taken into consideration while dealing with variants of Covid-19 and timely action & precaution can save millions of people all over the world. Prevention is always better than cure.