Episode 56 of the “Science in Five” program, presented by Vismita Gupta Smith, and broadcast by the World Health Organization on its official website and through its accounts on communication sites, touched on new air quality guidelines, and the impact of pollutants on the aggravation of the spread of the Corona virus, through an interview with Global expert Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the United Nations.
Dr Neira said: “What is new in the WHO air quality guidance, basically, is that we need to lower recommended levels of exposure to air pollutants in order to protect human health, as it is now known that even very low levels of exposure to some The pollutants that humans breathe daily puts them at risk.
“For this reason, for six major pollutants, WHO recommends lower levels that would protect human health. The important message of these guidelines is that if WHO recommendations are specifically implemented in relation to PM 2.5, which is fine particulate matter suspended in the air,” she added. With a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, which is one of the most dangerous suspended particles to health, 80% of the total number of deaths that occur annually due to air pollution, which statistics indicate is up to 7 million premature deaths caused by exposure to air pollution. .
“There are six pollutants that must be eliminated in the air that humans breathe because they are a major concern for the health of living organisms,” Nira explained, noting that a suspended particle with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, which is referred to as PM 2.5, is a small particle that can easily move to the lungs and is transmitted from lung into the bloodstream, and then it can reach any organ in the human body.”
“There are also fine particles, but they are a little bigger as 10 micrometers in diameter, which they call PM10, and then there are four other pollutants that come mainly from traffic or from the combustion of fossil fuels, they are SO2, NO2, ozone and carbon monoxide.”
“These six pollutants are targeted within the framework of the guidelines and recommendations of the World Health Organization, and if success is achieved in implementing the new recommendations by reducing the levels of these six pollutants in the air, many, many lives will be saved,” said Maria.
On the relationship between air pollution and corona injuries, Dr. Nera explained that “poor measures of the air that is breathed are a major risk factor for acute and chronic respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases, adding that if a person is exposed to air pollution, he will develop certain diseases or underlying diseases that give the possibility of It is greater to develop severe cases if SARS-CoV-2 infection occurs, and therefore there is a clear relationship between air pollution and the exacerbation of corona cases in highly polluted places.”
“These facts are an additional reason why it is necessary to start planning now for the post-Covid-19 pandemic, in order to re-imagine a greener world with clean energy sources, and places where humans can breathe air that does not kill them,” Dr. Neira said. “.
In this context, Dr. Maria noted that “90% of the world’s population does not breathe air that meets the standards recommended by the World Health Organization to protect human health.”
She expressed her hope that “binding decisions will be taken by the world’s governments to reduce air pollution and reduce the danger rates that threaten the health of citizens.”
The Corona virus has caused the death of at least 4,780,108 people in the world since the World Health Organization office in China reported the emergence of the disease at the end of December 2019, while at least 233,723,290 people have been confirmed to have been infected with the virus since its appearance.
The vast majority of those infected recovered, although some continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.