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Around the world, more than seven million premature deaths are attributed to air pollution.
However, about 600,000 children are at risk of the adverse effect of air pollution; according to a statement signed by Medinat Abdulahi, Communication Officer, Media Advocacy and Technologies Center (MATEC).
To commemorate the world environment day 2019 with the theme- ‘beat the air pollution’ which was meant to create awareness on harmful activities that affect the earth, MATEC has stressed the need for everyone to beware of air pollution. Adding that, all hands must be on deck to do everything possible to reduce the adverse effect of air pollution on our health and environment.
The group said: “No doubt, polluted air is creating more emergency. Cases like asthma, respiratory infections, and heart disease are on increase.
“Around the world, more than 7 million premature deaths are attributed to air pollution.
“Similarly, about 600,000 children are at risk of the adverse effect of air pollution.
“There is also the high link between poverty and pollution, according to the World Health Organisation.
“However, MATEC wants to affirm that the right to clean air is embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and fully enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We want to implore government at all levels to come up with environmental protection guidelines that will regulate activities like Bush burning, firewood, and charcoal productions, and make tree planting compulsory in commercial, learning and residential areas.”
However, experts say healthy people can experience health impacts from polluted air including respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities.
On the risk, high air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems including aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness added stress to the heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen.
Those most susceptible to severe health problems from air pollution are individuals with heart disease, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure; individuals with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pregnant women among others.
It is a strong irritant that can cause constriction of the airways, forcing the respiratory system to work harder in order to provide oxygen.
It can also cause other health problems like an aggravated respiratory disease such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, lung damage, even after symptoms such as coughing or a sore throat disappear, wheezing, chest pain, dry throat, headache or nausea, reduced resistance to infections, increased fatigue, weakened athletic performance.
Particulate matter (PM) and wildfire smoke have also become major concerns. Particulate matter is a complex mixture that may contain soot, smoke, metals, nitrates, sulphates, dust, and water, and tire rubber. It can be directly emitted, as in smoke from a fire, or it can form in the atmosphere from reactions of gases such as nitrogen oxides.
The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles (known as PM2.5 or fine particulate matter) pose the greatest problems because they bypass the body’s natural defences and can get deep into your lungs and potentially your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart.
Long-term exposure to particulate pollution can result in significant health problems including death from lung cancer.
SIKIRAT SHEHU, Ilorin