Most of us, unless you are an individual with a chronic health condition or an acute exposure to air pollution, pay little attention to the quality of our air and its implications for our health and wellbeing. However, the thousands of microscopic chemicals and particulates present in our air have severe consequences on virtually every aspect of human, environmental, and economic health and justice.
At a global scale, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), developed by the University of Chicago, has concluded that “particulate air pollution is the single greatest threat to human health.” However, these health repercussions vary dramatically with socioeconomic status, race, and nationality. In Bangladesh, for example, which the AQLI has identified as the most polluted country in the world, the estimated decline in life expectancy is nearly 7 years on average.
The good news is there are efforts underway to reduce exposure to unhealthy air in regions across the globe. In the U.K., for example, policy makers are campaigning to ratify a clean air bill known as “Ella’s Law.” The bill was inspired by Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah, a nine-year old girl from London who made history as the first person with air pollution included in her autopsy report following her tragic premature death in 2013. If passed, Ella’s Law would establish a human “right to clean air,” improve air quality standards, and create mechanisms for accountability.
Despite these actions, there is often far too little attention paid to air pollution, despite its immense significance for human health. Earthwatch’s Operation Healthy Air (OHA) plays a critical role in raising awareness, collecting valuable data, and harnessing science to drive change in our communities.
In the fall edition of the OHA newsletter, we share updates on cutting-edge air quality research, including programs organized by Earthwatch scientists across the globe, and highlight how collaboration and coalition-building can drive improvements in environmental health.
Read more here.