Over the course of the last few decades, air pollution has become a global environmental hazard that calls for worldwide attention and imminent inclusion in economic, political, and climate policy agendas on an international scale.
According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, the levels of air pollution in 2015 caused 8.8 million premature deaths worldwide, which translates to an average reduction of 2.9 years in life expectancy per capita.
As a result of increasingly unsustainable rates of global economic development and rapid urbanization, the negative impact of air pollution emissions has become more widespread to diverse regions and peoples across the world. Since 2005, the World Health Organization has consistently updated revisions of their Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) with recommendations to mitigate the presence of the main air pollutants, namely nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.
Based on their evidence, 92% of the world’s population is currently living in polluted areas where there is a proven high concentration of at least one of these aforementioned pollutants. This situation has profound impacts not only on a collective public health level but also on individual health since living in these highly polluted areas has a high risk of affecting a person’s quality of life, health, and longevity.
In large urban areas with a high population density, there’s a higher dispersion of pollutants that affects and modifies the environment. These levels of concentrated pollutant particles come from construction, power plants, commercial farming, cars, and fires and they are especially harmful to nearby residents.
Recent studies have shown the damaging effects that particulate matter (PM 2.5) has on the human body. These tiny particles can penetrate the lungs and cause chronic inflammation all over the body, which leads to disease. Prolonged exposure to these pollutants has also been linked to the development of cardiac disease, cancer, and premature death.
The elderly, children, expecting mothers, and people with diabetes or pre-existing heart or lung diseases are especially susceptible to the effect of particulate matter and need special protection measures.
Air pollution and life expectancy
According to the State of Global Air Report (2019), air pollution is believed to shorten the life expectancy of children by 20 months on average. Another study from the same year found that air pollution can also adversely affect mental health in children, with the potential to cause adjustment disorder, schizophrenia, and even suicidal thoughts.
Pollution not only affects children’s physical and mental health but also poses a threat to expecting mothers and their unborn children. During pregnancy, breath rate increases due to the additional strain on the heart pumping blood for two, this makes pregnant women especially vulnerable because of the additional exposure to inhaled pollutant particles.
Several studies have found a strong correlation between air pollution and negative health effects on fetus health.
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that an increase in the mother’s exposure to air pollution during the pregnancy caused decreased heart rate variability when the baby was placed under stress. Other adverse health risks posed to unborn babies and their expecting mothers demonstrated by additional studies to be directly related to pollutant exposure include inflammatory damage to the placenta’s blood supply, slower growth rates, congenital hypothyroidism, pre-term labor, and an increased risk of death in newborns.
These evidence-based findings firmly support the idea that it is critical for governments on both a local and national scale to urgently formulate and implement policies to improve our air quality — for the betterment of our collective public health and individual health, and for the protection of the most vulnerable groups of our population like children and expecting mothers.
Vote Like A Madre
As Mujeres Latinas y Madres, it is important for us to understand and use the power of our choices and actions in Motherhood to provide a consistently better and safer world for our children. We must understand that active participation in the local and national discourse and voting for candidates that support science-based approaches to climate change means choosing a better, fairer world for our children where life has a chance of being truly respected.
Pinky promise your kids to #VoteLikeAMadre and fight climate change so they'll always have clean air to play outside.Prómeteles a tus hijos que vas a votar por ellos y proteger el medio ambiente. Así tendrán aire limpio y podrán jugar afuera. #VoteLikeAMadre #election2020 #vote
Posted by Vote Like A Madre on Thursday, September 3, 2020
That is why initiatives like the Vote Like A Madre movement are so important — to make our vote count and be game changers, for our futures and our children’s futures. Mamas Latinas, críticas y activas por el futuro de nuestros hijos y nuestra comunidad.
Disclaimer: This sponsored article was produced and distributed in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the Vote Like a Madre campaign.