June 19, 2019

Academies Call for Global Action to Reduce Air Pollution

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and U.S. National Academy of Medicine joined the science academies of South Africa, Brazil, and Germany today in issuing a statement calling for urgent worldwide action to reduce air pollution. The statement was handed over to senior United Nations representatives and diplomats from the four nations at a ceremony today in New York.

Air pollution is a cross-cutting aspect of many UN Sustainable Development Goals. Air pollution is estimated to contribute to the premature deaths of at least 5 million people worldwide per year, as well as to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and allergies, among others. The global economic burden of disease caused by air pollution across 176 countries in 2015 was estimated to be $3.8 trillion.

In the statement, the five academies propose the adoption of a global compact on air pollution to ensure sustained engagement at the highest level and make air pollution reduction a priority for all. Many technology and policy solutions are available to reduce air pollution, such as implementing emission controls for industry and power plants or changing to clean fuels, providing access to clean fuels for households, enforcing rules to eliminate garbage burning, and using agricultural techniques to reduce crop burning.