United Nations World Health Organization Claims That Air Pollution Is Far More Damaging to Human Health Than Previously Thought
Recently, the United Nations World Health Organization disclosed that the dangers to human health caused by air pollution were much greater than once thought. As a result, the World Health Organization is seeking rapid global action in reducing the causes of air pollution.
At a United Nations Environmental Programme Climate and Clean Air Coalition meeting, the World Health Organization informed participants that 3.5 million premature deaths each year could be traced to indoor air pollution. The worst sufferers were those in South Asia, followed by those in Eastern, Central, and Western Sub-Saharan Africa, and then Southeast Asia. Another 3.3 million deaths could be traced to outdoor pollution. Of that number, ground-level ozone alone accounts for 200,000 premature deaths.
According to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, some of the most dangerous culprits are "short-lived climate pollutants", which include emissions released from diesel engine exhaust, smoke and soot from outdated cook stoves, leakage from oil and natural gas production, and emissions from solid waste disposal. Even one outdated cook stove can emit more than one hundred times the recommended amount of carbon monoxide. The United Nations Environmental Programme notes that fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants could lead to a steep reduction in the number of annual deaths. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition has already sought to update the technology in brick production so that it leads to lower black carbon emissions, as well as to distribute cleaner cook stoves in countries such as Bangladesh.
While the focus appears to be primarily on locations in Asia and Africa, the United States should not take too much comfort. Studies -- such as the recent one on traffic-related smog -- have shown that even pollution here can cause greater health problems and birth defects. Significant health problems are also a concern in areas affected by mountaintop removal mining, coal-burning power plant emissions, or agriculture that relies on heavy use of pesticides. Indoor pollution is also a problem here as well: even sitting on the furniture, for instance, can lead to flame retardants in our bloodstream.
What can be done about it? If your child has a birth defect that you believe was caused by one of the above sources of pollution, you have the option of filing a toxic tort lawsuit against the offender. Of course, before you file such a lawsuit, you will want to be certain that the source is the cause. While you may never be able to find 100% conclusive proof, you will at least want to find evidence that strongly supports your position. That may come from official environmental reports, medical reports, or even statements from other people in your area who also have children with birth defects. Once you feel that you can make your case, you would argue that the offender had a duty to the community to operate reasonably according to laws and regulations. The offender breached that duty, and as a result, you were exposed to toxins while pregnant that led to your child being born with a birth defect.