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Be Aware of the Air You Breathe: Our Air Pollution Crisis

Be Aware of the Air You Breathe: Our Air Pollution Crisis

Lauren Carlstrom

Lauren Carlstrom, O+ Team Member |

The air we breathe: It’s invisible, but it can be poisonous, dangerous, even deadly. Plus, air pollution and poor air quality is a bigger problem than you may believe – affecting the majority of the world’s population both indoors and outdoors. This alarming reality should arose you to a state of anger – and moreover, into a place of taking action.

First, Know Your Air

Air pollution in China shortens livespansPerhaps the initial step in working toward curtailing air pollution is to assess the current state of the air we breathe. We have to know what’s out there – in our atmosphere. Here is a brief rundown of the facts, sourced from a recent article in The Guardian (Harvey) that highlights reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), the organization that establishes the levels of air pollution deemed safe, as well as a global study conducted by the Health Effects Institute:

  • More than 95% of the world's population breathes dangerous air.
  • Air pollution is the fourth highest cause of death globally, after high blood pressure, diet and smoking, and the greatest environmental health risk.
  • One in three people worldwide faces a double dose of toxic air – both indoors and out.
  • The 2018 WHO report revealed an alarming death toll of 7 million people dying each year from ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.
    • Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period,” the WHO report found.
  • While China and India account for more than half of the death toll, air pollution – citing diesel fuel as a leading cause – also harms rich, industrialized countries, like those in Europe and the United States of America.
    • In the United Kingdom, illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide – from diesel vehicles and poor regulation – cause more than 60 premature deaths per day (Carrington, “The war against air pollution has begun – and it will be fought in cities.”)
  • 2017’s ten most polluted cities in the U.S., eight of which call California home, make “ozone an urgent health threat for millions of Americans,” stated American Lung Association President and CEO, Harold P. Wimmer (Doyle).

 

 

According to the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report, which considered pollution levels from 2014 to 2016, “133 million Americans — more than four of 10 — live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, placing them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm” (Doyle).

Air pollution in China - where life spans are significantly shortened from air pollution

Next, Learn How Air Pollution Affects People

Now that we’re aware the invisible danger is out there, let’s elevate our IQ about what it’s doing to our minds and bodies, not to mention (at least in this article) planet earth.

  • In 2017, exposure to air pollution contributed to more than 6 million (WHO reported 7 million) deaths worldwide.
    • “WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from 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” (2018 World Health Organization Report).
    • Air pollution rarely kills people directly, but it shortens lifespans, and is a known contributor to other causes of death, including:
      Air pollution in major cities affect the health of millions of people
        • Stroke
        • Heart attack
        • Heart disease
        • Cardiovascular damage
        • Lung cancer
        • Respiratory infections (e.g., pneumonia)
        • Asthma attacks
        • Chronic lung disease
        • Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases
        • Diabetes
        • Kidney disease
        • Degenerative brain diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s)
        • Developmental harm
        • Reproductive harm
      • Air pollution, even at low levels, is linked to other destructive effects on the mind and body, including:
        • Mental illness – in adults and children
        • Premature ageing, accelerating wrinkles and age spots
        • Stunting children’s lung development
        • Reducing children’s intelligence

       

      While the major life-shortening effects of air pollution are frightening, the way toxic air impacts growing children is particularly disturbing. In his article in The Guardian’s ‘Air pollution linked to increased mental illness in children,’ Damian Carrington states, “Relatively small increases in air pollution were associated with a significant increase in treated psychiatric problems. It is the first study to establish the link but is consistent with a growing body of evidence that air pollution can affect mental and cognitive health and that children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.”

       

      Children walking to school wearing smog pollution masks in Britain. Residents in many developing countries are exposed to toxic air both outdoors and inside their homes. Photograph: David Bagnall/Alam

      Children walking to school wearing smog pollution masks in Britain. Residents in many developing countries are exposed to toxic air both outdoors and inside their homes. Photograph: David Bagnall/Alam

       

      The O+ Mission: To Make A Significant Contribution To The Well-Being of Humankind

      Breathe Clean - Oxygen Plus (O+)Yes, breathing Oxygen Plus recreational oxygen canisters can help mitigate a person’s exposure to particulate matter in the atmosphere. And yes, if you or someone you know is going to be in an environment with poor air quality, the suggestion to buy oxygen in can from Oxygen Plus is a smart one. However, the mission of Oxygen Plus – which is to make a significant contribution to the well-being of humankind – is the heartbeat of the company. O+ Founder, Christine Warren, wanted to do something to help people gain unrestricted access to breathe well. The product was recreational oxygen, however the purpose was – and remains to be – the right or ability for people to breathe easy. So, in addition to producing a quality oxygen product that affords people the ability to breathe pure oxygen on-demand, Oxygen Plus is dedicated to elevating awareness and furthering the proven solutions related to the clean air crisis. This is no secret, and hopefully, it’s something people will see with more and more visibility.

      Now, Elevate Air Pollution IQ

      Armed with the truth about how the toxic air we breathe is causing people harm, we now need to grow our collective, global consciousness surrounding air pollution, so we are no longer shocked, but rather, catapulted into action. To that end, we – at Oxygen Plus – now ask you – the living, breathing human being reading these words – to share this article with your friends, family and social media platforms. Again, we ask: Share this article. Play your part. It’s a small part, yes, but one that fulfills the call to care for our world – the one in which we are blessed to breathe.

      O+O+O+O+O+

       

      Harvey, Fiona. The Guardian. More than 95% of world's population breathe dangerous air, major study finds. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/17/more-than-95-of-worlds-population-breathe-dangerous-air-major-study-finds. April 17, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2018.

      2018 World Health Organization Report. 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air, but more countries are taking action.http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/02-05-2018-9-out-of-10-people-worldwide-breathe-polluted-air-but-more-countries-are-taking-action. May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 25, 2018.

      Carrington, Damian. The Guardian. The war against air pollution has begun – and it will be fought in cities. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/13/war-air-pollution-fought-cities. Retrieved May 24, 2018.

      Carrington, Damian. The Guardian. Air pollution linked to increased mental illness in children. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/13/air-pollution-linked-to-increased-mental-illness-in-children. June, 13, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2018.

      Doyle, Rice. USA Today. California has eight of 10 most polluted U.S. cities. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/04/18/california-has-eight-10-most-polluted-u-s-cities/524815002/. April 20, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2018.

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