A ir pollution is a prevalent issue in the modern world, and there is no better way to underline just how bad the situation got than reminding of the fact that global warming is happening as we speak, and it doesn’t seem to slow down. Moreover, certain areas are dealing with worryingly severe issues when it comes to air contamination, countries where simply breathing in the air for a few hours leads to immediate unwanted health effects.
Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem, and even with the case of the world’s most polluted countries, there is a way to fix the air purity issue and improve life quality as a result. Here, we will discuss the topic of air contamination, where it’s most severe, and what we can do as individuals in the hope that we can change the future of our planet.
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Air Pollution
Particle pollution, which is evaluated by WHO through the assessment of PM2.5 concentration, is the indicator of air quality. Fine particulate matter 2.5 refers to minuscule droplets in the air that come from vehicle exhausts, fossil fuel burning applications, smoking tobacco, and more. When PM2.5 pollution levels are high, people’s health is at risk, and other issues emerge as well, including reduced visibility and hazy air.
Read more about PM2.5 indoor air pollution causes and impact to get detailed insight into this topic and gain a deeper understanding of how fine particulate matter contamination affects life quality.
According to PM2.5 pollution levels, these are the 10 countries with the most severe air quality issues:
|Rank||Country||Population||PM2.5 Pollution Average|
What Are the Effects of Air Pollution?
Exposure to high air contamination levels has a wide range of health effects on humans. People do indeed react in a different manner to various types of air pollution based on the state of their immune systems and their born predilection, but the end result is the same – health deprecation. Let’s break down these effects into short-term and long-term effects to better comprehend how severely poor air quality impacts human life:
|Short-Term Consequences||Long-Term Consequences|
While the duration of exposure to contaminated air and the precise nature of the pollutants factor in, what is certain is that conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and asthma are exponentially worsened by ambient air pollution.
According to the WHO, 4.2 million deaths each year are allocated to ambient air pollution, while another 3.8 million deaths per year result from household exposure to smoke and fuels.
What You Can Do to Reduce Air Pollution
Individuals hold greater power than they think when it comes to lowering air contamination. If each of us contributes, the problem worldwide is solvable and harmful effects will be reduced, but it takes a collective effort. What you can do to help reduce the problem of air pollution is to:
- Ideally, you should walk or take the bike wherever you want to go. Otherwise, carpool or use public transportation when you need a vehicle to get to your destination.
- Make sure that engines are properly tuned. This includes the car engine, boat engine, and any other engine that you are dealing with.
- Compost leaves and yard waste or mulch it rather than burning it.
- When you buy new equipment for your home or office, make sure that it is Energy Star certified. This label indicates the product boasts higher energy efficiency compared to models in its class.
- Use environmentally-safe cleaning products and paints to avoid toxic fumes.
- Reduce fireplace and wood stove use as much as you can. You should also consider gas logs instead of wood.
- Switch to electrically-powered lawn and garden equipment rather than gas-powered products.
- Always plan ahead to reduce trips and combine errands where you have to use the car for transportation.
Solution for Cleaner Air at Home
Not-so-fun fact: Indoor air is 2-5 times more toxic and polluted than outdoor air, so if you thought that you were safe at home, think again.
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to keep the air clean in your home, and there are plenty of solutions to this issue. Some of the actions we recommend that you take ASAP regardless if you live in a country where air pollution is severely high or not are the following:
- #1 – Use an air purification system: As implied by their name, these systems remove airborne contaminants and allergens. Air purifiers can trap upwards to 99% of pollen, mold spores, and other polluting particles that float through the air. For allergy sufferers and asthmatics, the presence of an air purifier is mandatory considering that it prevents symptoms from going haywire.
Check out the best air purifiers with washable filters to keep the air indoors clean in an environmentally-friendly manner. Since their filters are washable and reusable, these systems are more cost-effective as well.
- #2 – Bring nature indoors: Houseplants breathe, taking in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen, which ultimately leads to cleaner air. Some of the most prolific air-cleaning houseplants include Aloe, bamboo plant, red-edged dracaena, rubber tree, and English ivy.
- #3 – Increase ventilation: Install exhaust fans to carry pollutants outside. Always ventilate the kitchen when you cook, and make it a point to let out all the steam after bathing or showering.
- #4 – Reduce humidity: When moisture levels exceed the recommended 55%, mold and mildew growth inevitably occurs. This, in turn, causes the health-threatening spores to linger in the air indoors. Check humidity levels and, if they exceed this threshold, use a dehumidifier to remove the excess moisture.
- #5 – Switch to non-toxic cleaning products: Use fragrance-free products for cleaning purposes, or at least make sure that the scented products are plant-based. If you want to get rid of nasty odors, better use baking soda.
- #6 – Vacuum regularly: The best way to reduce dirt and dust mites is to vacuum at least 1-2 times per week. If you have furry pets living indoors, better take up this chore daily as the animals shed hair and dander.
- #7 – Beware of formaldehyde: Whenever you buy new furniture or you take up a home renovation project, make sure that you check for the adhesives to be free of formaldehyde. This toxic gas is given off by certain carpeting, furniture, decorations, walls, and flooring.
- #8 – Keep your fans clean: A dusty fan inevitably circulates dust, so it’s easy to understand why you must keep it clean. Otherwise, you end up with dirtier air than before every time you turn the fan on for air circulation.
- #9 – Smoke outside: If you have household members who smoke, convince them to smoke outside the house from now on for their good, as well as yours. There are over 4,000 different chemicals in the exhaled tobacco smoke, so even if you are a non-smoker, you are in great danger just by being in the same room with a smoker.
- #10 – Groom your pets: If you have furry animals, know that their shedding fur and dander is likely going to end up in your respiratory system at one point. This is preventable if you frequently groom your pets.
Find out what the common sources of indoor air pollution are to get a better idea of what changes and actions are required to increase air quality at home.
How Our Future Is Shaped – A Grim Glimpse of What’s to Come
A wake-up call is mandatory by this point as the repercussions of lack of action could be devastating. There are millions of people already dying each year because of air pollution, and our future is not shaping in a grim form if drastic changes don’t occur. Global warming is already a reality we live with, one that we created as a consequence of uncontrolled pollution. Predictions by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change say that an increase in the average temperature of 3 degrees Celsius is expected by the end of the 21st century, rising population and industrialization being at fault for the situation that is to come.
Without controlling air contamination and decreasing numbers each year, by 2030 people will have to use oxygen kits outside to breathe in areas of the world where pollution is severe. Seeing how long-term exposure to pollutants is directly linked to heart disease and cancer, incidents of these deadly diseases taking a toll on the population will increase as well. Needless to say, our lives are at stake, so immediate action is compulsory.
Without collective effort in these countries where air pollution is at its peak, the issue cannot be solved so that human and animal life alike don’t ultimately suffer consequences. As an individual, you can wear a protective mask when you go outside and install air purification systems in your home to limit the damaging effects of this form of pollution. As aforementioned, you can actively participate in reducing air contamination by choosing environmentally safe cleaning products, carpooling or using alternative transportation means, conserving energy at home and the office, and more.
As dire as the situation may seem in these 10 countries, as well as tens of other countries around the world, the active implication of people and a simple change of habits can make a big difference. Companies and industries should also pitch in by making the needed changes to their practices, and if everyone plays their part, clean air can be achieved so that life quality increases and worldwide deaths related to air contamination are diminished.