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Things To Know » The Need for Cleaner Air

The Need for Cleaner Air

Polluted Air = Shorter Life

Scientists say human beings can live without food for up to two weeks, without water for up to three or four days but only up to five minutes without air. But while we need air to sustain life, modern life has put a lot of things in the air that are not good for us.

Vehicular traffic and its resulting air pollution is something that most people living in urban areas accept as a fact of life.  But while sitting in traffic may test one’s patience and raise blood pressure every now and then, the health effects from exposure to air pollution are much more serious:

  • According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills 3 times more people each year than automobile accidents. (
  • A study by the European Commission estimates that air pollution reduces life expectancy of an EU citizen by almost nine months.
  • In a heavily polluted city like Metro Manila, 1 of every 8 premature deaths is caused by air pollution. (Philippine Environment Monitor 2007)
  • Every breath we take of polluted urban air actually makes us live less than we’re supposed to.  The effects of air pollution on children are even worse:
  • Children spend more time outdoors and are more active outdoors than adults. For their body size, children breathe faster and inhale several times more air – polluted air - than adults.
  • Studies in California found that children living near freeways were more likely to have reduced lung function and develop asthma and bronchitis symptoms. (
  • A study in New York found that mothers who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy had children with lower IQs.

Unfortunately, many health effects are seen in people exposed to levels of air pollution that are lower than the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard set by the EPA. In other words, new research shows that levels of air pollution currently considered safe may actually be harmful to some people, including exercising children.

Cleaner Air = Longer Life

Every little bit counts in the fight against air pollution. A study in Europe has found that even very small cuts in pollution can benefit health, and a recent Harvard University study found that people living in cities where air pollution decreased in recent decades saw their life expectancy increase an average of five months as a result of cleaner air.