What is air pollution? Air pollution is when the air we breathe is contaminated with a harmful mixture of toxic gases, particulates, and chemicals. Most pollution is man-made and can negatively affect our health, other living creatures, and the environment.
The World Health Organization estimates that 9 out of every 10 people breathe air that contains high levels of pollution, which can cause long-standing health issues, developmental problems in children, and may even contribute to mental health issues.
Because of these grave consequences, the UK government and the WHO have partnered to promote this year’s Clean Air Day — the UK’s most extensive air pollution awareness campaign! June 17 is Clean Air Day, which means there will be an assortment of workshops, webinars, and educational opportunities about air pollution, how to prevent it, and how to protect yourself from it.
As one of the UK’s top anti-pollution mask providers, Cambridge Masks supports clean air and wants to help people in the UK and beyond breath clean, unpolluted air with the help of our mask. To celebrate Clean Air Day 2021, Cambridge Masks has put together this guide to air pollution to help you stay informed about how pollution may affect you and your family and — more importantly — what you can do about it.
1. Air pollution in the UK
Anyone who has ever strolled through Hyde Park is likely familiar with London air pollution and the ways it can impact your day. But many people don’t consider air pollution much of a health risk, even though this menace can lead to a range of deadly health conditions such as strokes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, acute respiratory infections, and more.
In fact, every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. This has prompted many UK government officials to address the issue and pledge to improve the UK’s pollution output.
“I know personally how much London’s air is damaging people’s health. I recently started suffering from asthma,” said Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, in a statement. “I’m also a parent and am concerned like many others that some of London’s worst pollution hotspots are around schools. Our children are being exposed to dangerously polluted air.”
While the UK government is making tremendous strides to reduce and combat air pollution through Clean Air Day and other initiatives, it’s still a massive problem that Britons should be aware of and prepared for.
2. The deadly consequences of air pollution
Globally, 90 percent of people — roughly 6.9 billion people — breathe polluted air every single day.
Considering the significant health implications of air pollution, this has deadly ramifications. In fact, air pollution is a silent killer that is globally responsible for 7 million premature deaths each year.
That’s equal to 800 people every hour or 13 every minute. This is more than three times the number of people who die from malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined each year. Additionally, air pollution is the cause of 16 percent of lung cancer deaths, 29 percent of heart disease and strokes, and 13 percent of deaths due to respiratory infection
In the United States alone, pollution kills more people than guns and car accidents put together.
So, without a doubt, polluting our skies has deadly consequences for everyday people.
3. Children and Air pollution
And it’s not just adults who are affected by air pollution. While poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases in adults, it is also linked to low birth weight, childhood respiratory problems and asthma, and cancer in children. Childhood pollution exposure also puts kids at a greater risk for chronic diseases later in life.
According to the WHO, if you breathe in polluted air while pregnant, you are more likely to give birth prematurely, have an increased stillbirth risk, and the chance that your child will develop asthma or other adverse health conditions is increased.
“Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in a WHO statement. “This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”
Air pollution also affects kids’ neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and may even detract from children’s educational outcomes.
Some research suggests that cutting air pollution by 20 percent could improve student’s memory and intake ability by six percent — equalling roughly for weeks of in-class time. Imagine that! Just a 20 percent pollution decrease could add up to an extra month’s worth of education per year.
4. Where does air pollution come from?
As responsible, civilly minded citizens, it’s essential to be aware of how our personal choices impact our society.
Up to 70 percent of air pollution is caused by road transport — that means, unbeknownst to you, your daily commute might be contributing to your city’s pollution problem.
In order to reduce your personal air pollution footprint, Global Action Plan, an environmental nonprofit sponsoring Clean Air Day 2021, recommends commuting with friends when possible, taking public transportation, walking or cycling, or seeking out electric vehicles. All of these options will put you one step closer to limiting your personal pollution output and staying green.
5. How it impacts your health
While we’ve confirmed that air pollution is harmful, how exactly can it impact your health? When we breathe pollution, the particulates, and chemicals irritate our airways, making them swell and tighten. This causes breathing problems and can lead to asthma and other respiratory issues—for people of all ages.
Air pollution has a worse effect on human lifespans than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, smoking, and even war.
6. How pollution affects your immune system
Even if you don’t die from air pollution, it can still impact your health and decrease your quality of life. The tiny, polluted elements in the air can get past our body’s defense system, entering our respiratory and circulatory systems. This can damage your lungs, heart, and brain and even lower your immune response.
That means that those who live in polluted areas are less able to combat viruses and germs and may be more susceptible to illnesses.
7. What can you do?
In the face of all this data, you might be compelled to curl up and never go outside again—but there is a better way!
Cambridge Masks takes air pollution seriously. Because we are so committed to protecting our clients, we have created the best reusable anti-pollution mask on the market. Our pollution masks use military-grade, three-layer filtration systems to purify your air and keep out any harmful gases, toxins, pollutants, viruses, or bacteria.
Our PRO series masks filter out 99.79 percent of particulates and pollution, so you can enjoy your city with the knowledge that you are protected from dangerous air pollution. And better yet, our masks can be used for around 340 hours (approximately three months of moderate use), meaning you can avoid any environmentally harmful, single-use masks and reduce your eco-footprint.
Breathe easy with Cambridge masks as you celebrate Clean Air Day 2021!