Imagine living in the city that contains some of the world’s most beautiful skylines but being unable to admire it. Or worse, being so worried about pollution that you won’t allow your kids to play outside for a least half a year.
This scenario might seem so far fetched but any Australians may be shocked to knowthat at least one major cit is dangerously close to exceedig air qualiy guidelines, putting resdents at increased risk of dying from stroke, heart disease and lung cancer.
According to a new report released today and produced by Environmental Justice Australia, air pollution is inadequately regulated, monitored and enforced in Australia.
Nicola Rivers, director of advocacy and research Environmental Justice, said governments could be doing more to prevent the 3000 deaths every year, and this figure was probably higher as it was based on a 2007 study.
Ms. Rivers said despite the fact that tiny particles called PM2.5 had been identified as a risk factor in lung cancer and other diseases, levels of these killer particles was not regulated.
These tiny particles can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs and could come from coal mines, coal fire power stations and diesel trucks.
Although most Australians thought they enjoyed clean air, levels of PM2.5 could be extremely high in some areas.
Environmental Justice Australia has identified some of the worst hot spots for air pollution and has found that those communities impacted were often the most socially and economically disadvantaged.
While residents in larger cities were generally exposed to higher levels of air pollution than those in rural areas, certain communities suffer disproportionate impacts because of how close they are to polluting facilities.
This includes coal mining regions such as the Hunter Valley in NSW, the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, communities near industrial sites such as the Port Pirie lead smelter, and suburbs close to major roads and rail.
Air pollution can be caused by fuel combustion from cars, power plants, wood burning, industrial processes, and diesel powered vehicles such as buses and trucks.
It will be difficult to reduce but WHO has identified measures including that houses are energy efficient, that urban development is compact and well served by public transport routes, street design is appealing and safe for pedestrians and cyclists, and waste is well managed.