Facts about pollution
The death toll due to pollution staggers
In a 2012 estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This WHO finding (released only in 2014) more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.
Not only air pollution but also water pollution, soil pollution and all sorts of pollution proliferate. Thus, about 40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution, concludes a Cornell researcher.
- Pollution damages our environment because it releases various types of harmful particles into the air. When we breathe them in, they can lower our overall resistance level and put our health at enormous risk. The long term effects include global warming due to the ozone layer being damaged.
- Outdoor air pollution afflicts both developed and developing countries. It is prevalent in the manufacturing and transport industries, as well as in agricultural and municipal solid waste incineration systems, energy power generations, charcoal productions and forest fires.
- Cooking and heating homes using solid fuels (i.e. wood, crop wastes, charcoal, coal and dung) in open fires and leaky stoves produce high levels of household air pollution with a range of health-damaging pollutants, including small soot particles that penetrate deep into the lungs. In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can be 100 times higher than acceptable levels for small particles.. Most sufferers are the poor who live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Impacts on health of indoor (household) air pollution: 4.3 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution caused by the inefficient use of solid fuels (WHO 2012 data). Among these deaths:- 12% are due to pneumonia, 34% from stroke, 26% from ischaemic heart disease, 22% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and 6% from lung cancer.
- War against tobacco smoking is on and yet WHO still expects 8 million people to be dying each year by 2030 – because these people have smoked tobacco or have been exposed to second hand smoke.
While it could be that we are usually more exposed to the effects of air pollution, it isn't the only type that we should be concerned with. We should also be wary about water pollution,
- Water pollutants can destroy the aquatic life and mess up the balance of the food chain. Contentious issues such as oil being spilled in the water has really created long term problems. It is illegal to dump chemicals and waste into the lakes but it has also created serious issues because many still engage in such behaviors.
- The open sewer system common to most (all?) vessels and boats that sail daily through the vast expanse of oceans and seas carry heavy human wastes while cruising. One natural doctor tells her patients: "The ocean is one big toilet." As much as possible, her advice was for people to eat cultured fish, instead.
- The plastic footprints have also found itself into the ocean and have turned up pollution into what is now better known as plastic soup. The young and concerned diver in the video below has presented an interesting case about the extent of the challenge. Aside from advocating education and prevention to mitigate water pollution, he also offered a novel idea on how the oceans can clean themselves. Hopefully, more people in authority somewhere out there can hear and take heed.
The soil can become polluted as well and that is dangerous. We depend on the soil to offer us a place to grow food. It is also what allows trees, plants, and flowers to grow. Without the balance of nature in place, the quality of air we breathe will suffer. If people will not care at all and worse, it they become careless, this will become a cycle that can lead to long term problems in our society that could be irreversible.
- Decrease soil fertility.
- Reduced crop yield.
- Larger loss of soil and nutrients.
- Reduces nitrogen fixation.
"This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: To convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation,"— Pope Francis
Better pollution awareness
To a great extent, industrial development brings with it so much pollution. But since majority of the world’s population would naturally not be willing to give up the luxuries they enjoy, the option is to look for cleaner methods of getting what we want. This includes changing fuel sources and cutting back on the amount of pollution that we personally make. Individuals can carpool, pick up trash, be more careful about the product they buy, and continue to educate others about pollution.
The right education and awareness place a huge factor when it comes to reducing the levels of pollution. In some cases the government has had to directly intervene through the issuance of regulations so that our rivers and the air can stay as clean as possible.
Penalties and incentives
There are serious fines and even jail penalties associated with not following government guidelines. In other instances the government offers nice incentives for those that do and exert ordinary or special but meaningful efforts to minimize pollution voluntarily. These could be in the form of cash incentives offered to both households and businesses. Incentives may truly help, but, even without them, we should all be responsible citizens of this world. Hand in hand, let us keep our environment pollution-free.
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