You are here

Killing us softly

Monday, April 7, 2014

During the recent Beetham dump fires, which left Port-of-Spain and environs cloaked in smog, a radio station called me for a commentary on what I thought the public should do. My answer was the only sensible thing I could say at the time: “Leave town.” I’m not sure if the commentary was ever aired; if it was, then nobody took it seriously. There was no mass panic and fleeing from the city, but I strongly feel it was the right advice. 


Air pollution may be the biggest silent killer: New estimates by the World Health Organisation are that, in 2012, one in eight global deaths was the result of air pollution exposure. That’s 7,000,000 people. Air pollution is the world’s single largest environmental health risk. 


A division was made between ambient air pollution—that is, outside air pollution—and household air pollution. Ambient air pollution caused 3.7 million deaths, and household air pollution 4.3 million deaths. Air-pollution-related deaths are 2,800,000 (40 per cent) from stroke, another 2,800,000 (40 per cent) from heart disease, 980,000 (14 per cent) from lung disease and 420,000 (six per cent) from lung cancer.