On World Lung Day The Union highlights the urgent public health emergency caused by air pollution

On World Lung Day, The Union highlights the urgent public health emergency caused by air pollution. In a week marked by global protests and the United Nations Climate Action Summit, the welfare of the entire planet is at forefront of the political agenda about health.

A new report, United in Science, was released this week by the world’s leading climate science organisations detailing the massively harmful effects of air pollution.

The report highlights the worrying damage of air pollution as the levels of greenhouse gases have reached new highs, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 grew by 20 percent compared with the previous five years, and 2018 saw CO2 emissions grow two percent to reach a record high of 37 billion tonnes of CO2.

The human cost of air pollution is significant, as it is a critical risk factor for non-communicable diseases, causing respiratory illness like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergies, emphysema, and lung cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution: exposure to air pollution in early childhood, when the lungs are still developing, can lead to reduced lung capacity that persists through adulthood.

With 91 percent of people worldwide breathing unhealthy air, resulting in about 7 million deaths annually, there is an urgent need for action and countries have to do more to put in place long-term solutions that protect people from air pollution.

On this World Lung Day, The Union, as part of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, calls for healthy lungs for all and for all countries to adopt the World Health Organization air quality standards to reduce ambient, indoor, and occupational air pollution.