Air pollution is a major world issue, one that affects both our health and that of the environment. Worldwide, it is estimated that only one in ten people breathe in healthy air every day. That means that over 90 percent of the Earth’s population are breathing in toxins and other chemicals that will damage their health. This is estimated to lead to over seven million deaths per annum. A high proportion of which are related to strokes, fatal heart attacks or lung cancer, disease all caused by unclean air.
So what countries are the main culprits? Many Asian countries suffer from air pollution, including India, China and South Korea. Koreans actually blame China for its issues with smog covering the capital, Seoul. Daily warnings regarding air quality are broadcast on radio and television warning people to refrain from playing sport or even going outside depending on the air quality.
In China, the problem is much worse. Since the start of the 90’s, figures show that China has suffered from 1.6 million premature deaths per year due to air pollution. At the moment, people over 60 years old account for 17% of the country’s population and as they grow older, premature deaths related to polluted air will increase.
China has tried to clean up its act, but many experts feel that it could be too little too late. Industrial output and coal consumption was cut in the past ten years however the country still has a major problem with traffic pollution as well as indoor pollution which accounts for one third of all deaths.
But what about closer to home? In the US, how do the highly developed cities compare to their counterparts in Asia and Europe? Very well actually. New York City, one of the busiest cities on the planet, has air that is 800 times cleaner than Delhi, while it also leads London in the healthy air stakes.
Reforms undertaken in the 70’s with regards to industrial output, reduced the number of harmful toxins in the air by 50% even though population and industrial production increased. It now leaves American cities as an example to follow when it comes to air quality.
However, with diminishing returns, as well as President Trump’s policies on the environment, some fear the US and its major cities may begin to take a step backward in the next few years, whether they will regress to the standard of Delhi’s air quality is unlikely though.