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The Air we Breathe is Killing Us

We have heard several reports across the media and also the opinions of various commentators that the air quality in Malta is rapidly declining. Our economy is indeed red hot and bringing to the fore an increased number of inhabitants within Malta, most using their own private cars for transportation, coupled with continued sites being developed like no tomorrow. All this activity is correlated with declining air quality, which is detrimental for our health.

The culmination of declining air quality can be mostly felt, or excuse the pun, inhaled in the busiest areas within Malta, where you consistently see numerous traffic jams and property development activity, which is replacing greenery. Have a look at St. Julian’s, Sliema and other central areas which are heavily populated, and you will get a good idea of what I’m talking about!

With that said, this is not just a problem within Malta, as declining air quality is reported in several countries around the world. It brings with it a variety of health problems which could range from short term ailments to death. The irony of this is the fact that most of the pollution which brings several health detriments comes from man made activities. It is in reality a result of transportation, dependence on fossil fuels such as gas and coal, and environmental destruction. Pollutants such as smog, sulphates, nitrates and carbon bring about damage to both humans and the earth.

Research conducted by the World Health Organisation indicates that exposure to such pollutants can lead to eye irritation and damage to the respiratory tract. This can extend to coughing, mucus and serious infections. Being constantly exposed to such poor air quality can contribute to damage to the lungs and breathing, developing into lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

The quality of our air also influences lifespan. According to research by the World Health Organisation, the number of deaths due to poor air quality exceeds two million annually. It is estimated that cities with higher rates of pollution have a fifteen to twenty percent higher mortality rate, when compared to cities with lower levels of pollution.

Several alternatives may be considered to ameliorate air quality. Initiatives such as planting new trees in selected areas, together with proposals for improved public transport, which make it more convenient for people than using their own cars should be made a priority. More environmental efforts combined with less usage of private cars, should lead to improved air quality which benefits all of Malta’s inhabitants.

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