EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE – The staggering, true cost of air pollution

Aipollution is a major global hazard affecting everybody and kills seven million people a year. It means that many harmful gases and substances in the air damage our health and our environment. Microscopic particulates are most dangerous, as they are absorbed directly into our bodies causing cancer, strokes, heart diseases and diabetes. Therefore, air pollution increases the risk of dementia, miscarriage and asthma, as well as It damages the vegetation, the crops and the biodiversity contributing tothe climate change.

Moreover, the damage in developing countries is very high and it costs much money. Low-and middle- income countries are affected most, for example due to the use of cheap ways to produce heat. In general,most of the world´s polluted cities are located in India and Africa where many cities do not meet the air quality standards, while in Europe one of the most polluted cities is Skopje, where nine out of 10 people are breathing air that the World Health Organization (WHO) says is unsafe.

Human beings are the main producer of bad air quality through the use of   poisonous chemicals, the way how they generate electricity and by traveling. Industries, deforestation and also natural phenomena contribute to air pollution.

However, UNDP is working with partners all over the globe to build sustainable and healthy futures for everybody and it is trying to help Skopje and other cities that are polluted by, for example, promoting clean energy.

The UN also outlined four steps governments can take to improve air quality:

  1. Tax pollution, not people
  2. Stop subsidizing fossil fuels
  3. Stop building new coal plants 
  4. Focus on a green economy

We must strive for a world where everyone, no matter where they live, can breathe clean air: Tackling air pollution will provide benefits for us.

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Written by Clara Hoppen