Saturday, July 25, 2009

Air Pollution

We breathe in and out between 15 to 25 times a minute, inhaling between 11 and 13 cubic metres of air each day.

Every time we breathe in, our lungs take oxygen from the air and pump it into our body. The oxygen helps cells convert food into energy.

When we breathe out, the body washes out carbon dioxide. If the air is clean, everything work beautifully. Unfortunately, the way we live causes air pollution.

Burning fossil fuels for energy, manufacturing, getting rid of rubbish and using chemical fertilisers on farms all release toxins such as unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and lead.

Air pollution chokes up the lungs, causing breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure causes respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis, heart disease and cancer.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that air pollution kills 2.4 million people annually. Bad air kills more people than car accidents!

The main causes of air pollution include burning fossil fuels for power and transport. Another big problem caused by farmers in Malaysia and Indonesia who burn forests to clear land for crops.

This means that every year in August and September, pollution from this "slash and burn" system causes people from Myanmar to Singapore to stay indoors.

Air pollution isn't a local problem - it's everyone's problem. Air pollution isn't just smelly, it can kill us.

  1. The Pollution Standard Index (PSI) calculates how many pollutants are in the air.

  2. A PSI reading of over 400 means hazardous!

  3. Trapped air pollution from coal fires killed 4,000 people in six days during the Great Smog of London in 1952. Around 8,000 more died during the following months.

  4. An industrial gas leak in 1984 in Bhopal, India, killed more than 2,000 people instantly, 6,000 in the following weeks, and injured between 150,000 and 600,000 more.

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