By Floro Mercene
Recently released report by WHO on Air Pollution based on the most-recent 2016 data from 4,300 cities in 108 countries says that nine of ten people around the world are exposed to dangerously high levels of pollutants. This leads annually to the early death of an estimated 7 million people.
Air pollution is not caused by the factors most familiar to us like vehicle and industry, but three billion people, most of them women and children, are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes.
Exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.
By addressing air pollution, we are going to be curbing the same emissions that cause climate change. Climate experts say the Paris Climate accord and alleviating the health risk from pollution go hand-in-hand. WHO says if we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development. The WHO has scheduled a meeting of world leaders at its Geneva headquarters for the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health to focus on both pollution and climate change this coming October.
Our practice of “pagsisiga” as a way of disposing leaves, wood, and waste in backyards and empty lots are a common scene in our daily life. The belief of that burning leaves is good for trees has no scientific basis whatsoever. The resulting smoke with pollutants is a daily nuisance for everybody nearby, especially those who are suffering from asthma, chronic pulmonary diseases, young children and elders. We should take air pollution seriously, considering that science proved that they pose a hazard more gravely than most of us think. Burning of leaves and waste materials is prohibited under Republic Act 9003.