World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. On the 5th June 2019, World Environment Day will be on the theme of air pollution. Hosted by China, World Environment Day invites us to consider how we can make changes in our daily lives to reduce air pollution, which in turn can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefit people’s health too.
Air pollution has a profound effect on our well-being and on the health of the flora and fauna of our planet. Apart from causing respiratory diseases, air pollution is a major cause of heart attacks, lung cancer and stroke in people. Air pollution also harms our natural environment, decreasing the oxygen supply in our oceans, making it harder for plants to grow and contributing to climate change.
How much pollution we breathe in is dependent on many factors, such as access to clean energy for cooking and heating, the time of the day and the weather. Rush hour traffic is an obvious source of local pollution, but air pollution can travel long distances, sometimes across continents on international weather patterns.
Ireland’s position on the west of Europe means that it is the first in line for fresh air from the Atlantic Ocean. However more than 1,500 people are thought to die in Ireland each year from breathing polluted air.
The five main sources of air pollution are agriculture, transport, household, industry and waste. These are all man-made and can be averted through good policies and practices.
Methane and ammonia produced by agricultural processes and livestock, contributes to ground level ozone causing asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The global transport sector accounts for almost one quarter of energy related carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel emissions have been in the spotlight since 2015 when Volkswagen was caught cheating regulatory tests. Virtually all diesel cars were then revealed to be pumping out far more pollution on the road than in official tests. In 2016, 71% of new cars in Ireland were diesel; the highest share of any European country. The main source of household air pollution is the indoor burning of fossil fuels such as wood and other bio-mass based fuels to cook, heat and light homes. Research at UCC found that particulate pollution can increase by 10 times during the evenings in small towns across Ireland because of coal, wood and peat burning. Industrial energy production is also a leading source of air pollution. Coal-burning power plants are a major contributor, while diesel generators are a growing concern in off-grid areas. Industrial processes and solvent use in the chemical and mining industries also pollute the air. Open waste burning and organic waste in landfills release harmful dioxins, furans, methane and black carbon into the atmosphere. Globally, an estimated 40% of waste is openly burned. The problem is most severe in urbanised regions and developing countries. Open burning of agricultural and municipal waste is practiced in 166 out of 193 countries. However not all air pollution comes from human activity. Volcanic eruptions, dust storms and other natural processes also cause problems. Sand and dust storms are particularly concerning. Fine particles of dust can travel thousands of miles on the back of these storms, which may also carry pathogens and harmful substances, causing acute and chronic respiratory problems.
New Vistas provide a range of xenobiotics which can help people with health issues arising from air pollution. Opsin II can help the body to detox toxins resulting from inhalant allergies. Agritex is a remedy specifically designed to help the body to deal with agricultural toxins while Industriox is specifically designed to aid in detoxifying industrial toxins from the body. Envirox is a highly recommended remedy in the treatment of pollution sensitivity. Fringed Violet can also be helpful in decreasing sensitivity to environmental irritants and chemical pollution.