an article by Selva Ozelli
Acknowledging the true cost of climate change on World Patient Safety Day
Air pollution — fine particulate matter (PM2.5), widely recognized as harmful to human health, are low lying airborne particles measuring up to 2.5 microns (μm) in size, made up of nitrates, sulfates, ammonium, and carbon–defies national borders and is inescapable. It is caused by a number of different sources, such as forest fires, sandstorms, the burning of fossil fuels, and vehicle exhaust fumes.
The current high levels of air pollution around the world has contributed to increased rates of chronic respiratory disease and impaired lung function in people of all ages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year an estimated 7 million premature deaths – or 1 in every 9 – are attributed to air pollution. In Europe this number is–one in eight deaths– according to a study by the European Environment Agency (EEA). A majority of the world population continues to be exposed to levels of air pollution substantially above World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines, making air pollution a major and increasing threat to public health, according to a study published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science. Many of the diseases that are caused by long-term exposure to air pollution are the same diseases that increase the risk of severe illness and death in patients with COVID-19…