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India on Verge of Health Disaster Because of Stifling Air Pollution

About a third of the 2 billion children in the world who are breathing toxic air live in northern India and neighboring countries, and are in danger of serious health effects to their lungs, brains and other organs, the Associated Press reports. New Delhi has tried to cut back on the pollution by banning certain vehicles from city streets, but other pollution, such as construction dust, garbage fires and cooking fires fueled by wood or kerosene, continue, the AP said.

It’s true that air pollution is one of the worst, most imminent threats to human health around the world. In fact, 92 percent of the world population breathes polluted air — and, these figures may be conservative as they don’t include nitrogen oxides or ozone pollutants, both gasses that are easily inhalable.

Poor outdoor air quality has been linked to both chronic and acute respiratory diseases such as asthma, lung cancer and bladder cancer, as well as diabetes. The American Lung Association reports that air pollution may also be associated with developmental delays in children, increased susceptibility to infections, cardiovascular conditions and premature death.

With environmental pollution now a greater threat than communicable diseases, it’s important to take a common sense approach to limiting your exposure to air pollution. In addition to advocating for clean air environmental rules, if you live in an area with high pollution, limit outdoor exercise during peak commuting hours, avoid riding your bike or running along major highways, and use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on your furnace and/or air conditioning unit. You can also clean your inside air naturally with a variety of house plants.