Here in Southern California, we are quite familiar with being concerned about outdoor air pollution. Our air has improved enormously in the past few decades, but we still do have poor air quality days and days when it is unhealthy to do outdoor activities if you are sensitive, due to air pollution.
Other countries around the world also have well-known air pollution issues:
- London, England–Levels of Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Dioxide continue to exceed national air quality standards, even while many other pollutants have dramatically decreased. People are discouraged from driving cars in London and the public transportation system there is excellent.
- Beijing, China–well-known for their terrible outdoor air pollution, the residents of Beijing often wear ventilation masks to try to protect their health. Particulates can get as high as over nine hundred micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization recommends levels no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter and even 85 is defined as hazardous.
- But those aren’t even among the top ten cities in the world for air pollution, according to Mother Nature Network: Delhi, India; Patna, India; Gwalior, India; Raipur, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Peshwar, Pakistan; Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Khoramabad, Iran; Ahmedabad, India; and Lucknow, India.
Today, however, we are reading about 400 people hospitalized in Teheran, Iran with heart and respiratory issues and almost 1500 more receiving treatment. An inversion caused by winter weather has trapped a combination of carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particles in the city. An estimated 4500 residents of Teheran died in 2012 from air pollution related illness.
Air pollution is a problem all around the world, in industrialized countries, developing countries and even the third world. We can all do our part to reduce outdoor air pollution at home and abroad by using public transportation when possible, carpooling, recycling, choosing greener alternatives, and just reducing our energy use. Even electric cars cause pollution by getting their electricity from coal-burning power plants.
We certainly hope the weather in Teheran breaks soon!