A new study has revealed that from the total number of deaths across the world in a year, 8.8 million are as a result of air pollution which is more dangerous than smoking.
According to the study, air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates were responsible for an extra 7.2 million deaths in 2015.
Dirty air, chiefly fine sooty particles pouring out of vehicle exhausts, factories and power plants have been termed as the main causes of air pollution across the globe.
The complex study involved computer simulations of interacting natural and man-made chemicals combined with new information about population density, disease risk factors, and causes of death.
WHO stated that air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world where 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.
Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.
More than 90 percent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.
In Africa, air pollution remains a major challenge causing about 600,000 deaths every year. The increasing level of urbanization coupled with poor urban planning leads to large numbers of people living in congested and poorly serviced housing. This serves to exacerbate the problem of pollution in the continent.
The 2017 Kenya Economic Survey estimated that 19.9 million Kenyans suffer from respiratory ailments that are exacerbated by poor air quality.
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, Kenya can lower the burden of diseases such as strokes, heart illnesses, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases such as asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both in the long- and short-term.