It is no secret that pollution comes at a great cost to the environment, but what does it actually cost society in terms of money? The major risks associated with air pollution are health issues and respiratory diseases. These health effects are well-documented and have been the focus of major studies around the world.
A recent article published in the Environmental Research journal shows that developing countries suffer more adverse health effects as a result of global air pollution. Countries such as South Africa are affected by respiratory illnesses as a direct result of air pollution, which is very costly.
It is estimated that 7.4% of all deaths in South Africa can be attributed to polluted air, which costs the nation 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP). This is a direct result of South Africa’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation and vehicle transport, according to the International Growth Centre study that was conducted by senior researchers at the University of Cape Town.
Health effects of air pollution
Fossil fuels are a major source of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. The study has also been backed by professor Cathryn Tonne from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. “Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one,” she explains.
“Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system,” continues professor Tonne.
Children are at the most risk from air pollution. Research has shown direct links between reduced cognitive development and harmful chemicals in the air. In heavily-polluted cities, some children are being affected by stunted neurodevelopment. This affects the entire economy of the future as their ability to earn an income one day will be reduced.
Averda offers catalyst handling services
There are solutions that can dramatically decrease air pollution and clean the exhaust gases from vehicles and factories. Averda offers services in catalyst handling. We are able to remove and replace spent catalyst from process vessels in the refining, chemical and petrochemical industries anywhere in South Africa.
These catalysts trap greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that are byproducts of combustion and factory processes. They are installed in the exhaust pipes of vehicles and on factory chimneys, helping to clean the gases that are released into the atmosphere.
Another solution to the problem of air pollution is promoting renewable sources of energy and public transport. Solar and wind power are 100% clean sources of electricity which are rapidly becoming a preferred alternative to coal-fired power stations. Citizens in South Africa should also consider taking more public transport, such as trains and buses, or walking and cycling to decrease their individual contributions to air pollution.
The government can also play its part by implementing updated policies and stricter regulations on air pollution. Controlling these pollutants at the source is easier than trying to find solutions to the health and economic effects after the air has become polluted. This is a global problem that will require input from all individuals, companies and governments in order to improve global air quality.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
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