Riverdale, NJ — Air pollution kills more Africans than childhood malnutrition or contaminated water. Fast-developing African nations such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa are especially affected by this problem.
A Silent Killer
Data from the World Health Organization shows that of the annual 2.2 million environment-related deaths on the African continent, 600,000 are linked to outdoor air pollution.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
Between 1990 and 2013, the total annual deaths from outdoor air pollution rose to 250,000, or 36 percent. Over the same time, deaths from household air pollution (HAP), or pollution from residential energy use, increased by 18 percent, representing 250,000 fatalities.
Staying indoors doesn’t help because the indoor air quality in a ‘sealed’ room is susceptible to outdoor air pollution. “Outdoor air can enter indoor spaces through cracks in the walls, ceilings, open doors and windows,” notes Mark Davidson, Manager of Marketing and Technical Materials at Camfil USA. “And unfortunately, through a system designed to protect the indoor inhabitants: the ventilation system.”
More than half of cases of infant pneumonia deaths in Africa are caused by inhaling soot, an indoor pollutant. Another 3.8 million deaths from non-communicable illnesses (such as stroke, COPD, heart disease, and lung cancer) are attributed to inefficient or unsafe use of solid fuels and kerosene for indoor cooking.
Where Does Air Pollution Come From?
Air pollution is the release and accumulation of harmful particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In large quantities, airborne pollutants are known to cause death and disease to humans, as well as billions of dollars of damage to animals and crops.
But where do particulate matter and VOCs come from?
“Virtually any manufacturing or industrial activity creates both particulate and VOC pollution, releasing organic and inorganic substances into the air that may cause a variety of diseases,” says Davidson, “Some cancers and exacerbated symptoms of pre-existing respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are most common.”
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report at the second UN assembly discussing measures to improve air quality worldwide. The report showed that there’s still much work to be done, but highlighted the following success stories in African countries.
- While billions of people around the world still depend on inefficient cookstoves and solid fuels for cooking, in Seychelles they succeeded in improving indoor air quality by implementing policies that encouraged the entire country to transition from solid fuels to liquefied petroleum gas.
- A mere quarter of the world’s countries have advanced fuels and vehicle standards, a regulatory policy that is proven to reduce particulate matter pollution levels, especially in urbanized areas. In 2015, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda transitioned to using only low sulfur fuels.
- Several African countries joined the rest of the world in implementing national air quality standards.
Choosing the Right Air Filter to Protect Your Health
With the wide array of filters available on the market, it’s important to know that each one is designed to remove specific types of pollutants.
When it comes to capturing particulate pollution, high efficiency mechanical air filters are commonly used. HEPA filters are included in this category.
For capturing VOCs, molecular filters, also called activated carbon filters are an effective solution.
Controlling both particulate and VOC pollution is possible, and a qualified professional can guide you through the process of selection. Before choosing an air filter, it’s important to work with a trusted air filter manufacturer.
To learn more about the importance of indoor air quality control, talk to Camfil USA.
Camfil USA Air Filters
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