International Day of Clean Air
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals recognise the importance of clean air and the need to improve air quality to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. The goals are designed to reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
From the UN’s website:
Clean air is important for the health and day-to-day lives of people, while air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally. Air pollution disproportionately affects women, children and older persons, and also has a negative impact on ecosystems.
An explanation of the problem:
Health impact: tiny, invisible particles of pollution penetrate deep into our lungs, bloodstream and bodies. These pollutants are responsible for about one-third of deaths from stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and lung cancer, as well as one quarter of deaths from heart attack. Ground-level ozone, produced from the interaction of many different pollutants in sunlight, is also a cause of asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses.
Climate impact: short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are among those pollutants most linked with both health effects and near-term warming of the planet. They persist in the atmosphere for as little as a few days or up to a few decades, so reducing them can have an almost immediate health and climate benefits for those living in places where levels fall.
The International Day of Clean Air is designed to not only bring awareness to issues of air pollution but also to actively work towards creating solutions to these problems. In particular, the UN is looking to promote sustainable development policies that support healthy air quality in the context of sustainable cities.
How to take action? Promote awareness by sharing this event on your social media platforms. Discuss the issue with family, friends and co-workers. Consider working with local organisations by donating your time or money. Write to your local government and MPs to ask what they’re doing to improve air quality where you live.
Read more about this event.