The World Health Organisation has warned that over 80% of people in urban areas around the world are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution with risk greater in lower and middle-income countries.
Air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to health with three million people dying prematurely every year!
And yet, by the looks of these statistics, some countries are marching on with unsustainable practices as if air pollution is not putting life on earth in danger at all.
The highest levels of small and fine particulate pollution (PM10 and PM2.5) at the moment are recorded in South-East Asia and the Mediterranean.
PM refers to particles less than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter – so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers is less than the width of a single human hair. Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometres in diameter, while finer particles (PM2.5) are less than 2.5 to 10 micrometres.
According to the WHO, Onitsha in Nigeria has the highest levels of PM10 worldwide, followed by Peshawar in Pakistan and Zabol in Iran.
The level of PM10 in Onitsha is nearly 30 times the recommended level.
South Africa has been spearheading many green initiatives on the African continent, with the Department of Environmental Affairs this year again promising to continue investing in green economy. Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa says the department of transport’s plan is to make South Africa’s regional airports more self-sufficient through solar energy, and so far, SA has launched its second solar powered airport.
The Department of Tourism too, is on board with the solar power plan. During his Tourism budget speech Minister Derek Hanekom said six iconic SA attractions are in line to get a solar power boost in the next financial year.