People should pay more attention to the sudden increase in air pollution
Exposure to toxic air pollutants is linked to increased cardiovascular and respiratory death rates, according to a new international study by researchers from Monash University (Australia) and abroad.
The study, led by Dr Haidong Kan from Fudan University in China, analysed data on air pollution and mortality in 652 cities across 24 countries and regions, and found increases in total deaths are linked to exposure to inhalable particles (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) emitted from fires or formed through atmospheric chemical transformation.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it’s the largest international study to investigate the short-term impacts of small-particle pollution on death, conducted over a 30-year period.
Associate Professor Yuming Guo from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in Australia, said as there’s no threshold for the association between particulate matter (PM) and mortality, even low levels of air pollution can increase the risk of death.
“The adverse health effects of short-term exposure to air pollution have been well documented, and known to raise public health concerns of its toxicity and widespread exposure,” Professor Guo said.
“The smaller the airborne particles, the more easily they can penetrate deep into the lungs and absorb more toxic components causing death.
The main sources of air pollution in Singapore are emissions from the industries and motor vehicles. From time to time, transboundary smoke haze from land and forest fires in the region also affect Singapore’s air quality, particularly during the Southwest monsoon period from August to October.
The Singapore government employs a strategy of integrated urban and industrial planning, together with development control, to minimise small-particle pollution. Additional measures include legislation, strict enforcement programmes, and air quality monitoring. These help ensure that air quality remains good despite Singapore’s dense urban landscape and large industrial base.
Singapore enjoys better air quality than many cities in Asia, comparable with that of cities in the United States and Europe. Singapore’s Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) has remained in the ‘Good’ and ‘Moderate’ range for much of 2017.
The study suggests that even in countries where the air pollution is low, people may become more sensitive to particulate matter air pollution and cannot effectively resist its adverse impacts. This, the study said, may be attributed to the person’s physiological functions having adapted to living in areas with low levels of particulate matter air pollution.
The study suggested that people should pay more attention to the sudden increase in air pollution.
The results are comparable to previous findings in other multi-city and multi-country studies, and suggest that the levels of particulate matter below the current air quality guidelines and standards are still hazardous to public health.