- The WHO indicates that exposure to air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths each year.
- It also increases the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke, among other serious health problems.
- In the new edition of the World Air Quality Report ranking, several Latin American countries appear among those with the highest pollution rates in the world.
Today’s world is marked by constant technological advances that aim to make life easier. At the same time, there is a drawback that has not been able to be combated and is even growing. It’s about pollution and there are some countries in Latin America that stand out from the rest because they have the highest levels. With this, the risk of developing a wide range of diseases is greater.
In this vein, since the Industrial Revolution it was noted that the creation of machinery would allow the mass production of various products. In this way automation arose but it was also the beginning of atmospheric pollution.
Health and environmental pollution
Only at present, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths each year. However, in children it can generate a reduced growth and lung function, as well as respiratory infections and aggravation of asthma.
On the other hand, in the case of adults, the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke. In addition, there are recent studies where it is suspected that there is also a direct relationship with diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on the same level as other major global health risks, such as unhealthy diet and smoking.
The countries with the highest pollution rates in Latin America
In this case, each year the results of the report are published World Air Quality Report by the Swiss air quality technology company IQAir. The most recent edition of the work indicates that Peru and Chile are the countries with the highest levels of contamination in Latin America.
Both South American nations occupy positions 38 and 43 of the global ranking, respectively. The concentration of light particles, one of the most used indicators to measure air pollution, reaches an average of 23.5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) in Peru and 22.2 in Chile.
The dirtiest cities in the region
Of the ten most polluted municipalities in South America included in this study, five are in Peru and five in Chile. However, when considering only the capitals of the region, Santiago de Chile slightly exceeds Lima (Peru) in air pollution, with 25.8 micrograms of light particles per cubic meter of air compared to Lima’s 25.6 micrograms. Mexico City ranks third, followed by Guatemala City, Bogotá and Buenos Aires.
On the other hand, the new WHO guidelines recommend air quality levels for six pollutants for which the most recent data regarding their health effects are available.
The guidelines also highlight good management practices for certain types of airborne particles (e.g. black carbon/elemental carbon, ultrafine particles, particles from sand and dust storms) for which there are no there is currently insufficient quantitative evidence to establish reference levels for air quality. They are applicable to both outdoor and indoor environments around the world, and encompass all settings.
When acting on these classic pollutants —particles in suspension (PM), ozone (O₃), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), sulfur dioxide (SO₂) and carbon monoxide (CO)—, other harmful pollutants are also affected.
Disparities in exposure to air pollution are increasing around the world, particularly as low- and middle-income countries are experiencing increasing levels of air pollution due to large-scale urbanization and economic development that has relied on much of the burning of fossil fuels.
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