In the News
January 11, 2023
January 11, 2023
Poor air quality is now one of the three main causes of premature morbidity, resulting in nearly 7 million deaths globally in 2022. Moreover, 99% of the world’s population experiences air pollution levels exceeding World Health Organization guidelines, clearly necessitating action to limit our risk. Yet, our ability to mitigate poor air quality and the damage it causes is hampered by a lack of actionable information.
Air pollution comes from a wide variety of sources – from campfires to cargo ships – and it is difficult to monitor effectively. Due to the dynamic nature of our atmosphere, the distribution of pollutants is constantly evolving. Pollutants generated from agricultural practices in rural regions can be transported to urban areas, and emissions generated from cars on busy roadways can travel far from the original source. Additionally, the exact concentration and dispersion of pollutants changes over time due to chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
The complex nature of air pollution suggests meaningful action plans cannot be developed without better monitoring. For example, restricting automobile traffic in a major city may not have the intended mitigating effect if more agricultural chemical by-products transit over the city. Additionally, measuring air pollution in spot locations paints an incomplete picture. Without understanding air pollution sources, we may put in place policies that mitigate the wrong things. We need complete information, as close to everywhere and at all times as possible, to make informed decisions.