In October we will examine the question; Are we being condemned to becoming chronic smokers?

Air pollution is probably one of the most serious environmental problems facing our society today. Mostly it is caused by human activities like refining, chemical manufacturing, mining, agriculture, transportation, industrial activities, construction, and other similar activities.

Air pollutants often cannot be seen or smelt, but that does not mean they are not present in sufficient quantities to be a health hazard!

Inhaling air contaminant has serious effects on human health. Depending on the level of exposure and the type of pollutant inhaled, these effects can vary, ranging from simple symptoms such as coughing, respiratory tract irritation and more acute conditions such as asthma and chronic lung disease and cancer.

It is generally accepted that smoking is bad for our health. Therefore, a comparison between air pollution and smoking may be helpful way to understand the potential harm caused by exposure to poor air quality. But unlike cigarettes, air pollution is almost impossible to avoid.

The Berkeley Earth Organisation has developed a formula to help people look at air pollution in a unique way. This allows you to compare the exposure to pollution with the level of exposure you would have from smoking a cigarette. The Berkeley researchers developed the conversion rate by comparing the total number of deaths from cigarettes to the total number of deaths from exposure to PM2.5 pollution. According to their calculations, inhaling 22 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter over 24 hours leads to the same exposure as smoking one cigarette.

Using the Berkeley Earth AQI calculator and the information provided by IQAir, we can calculate how many cigarettes each person “is forced to smoke” every day. Below is the top ten real-time South Africa City Ranking table – for 11 Oct 2022 07:30, showing how many cigarettes equivalents each person is inhaling.

Air quality monitoring stations are unevenly distributed across South Africa and unfortunately KwaDukuza does not have any active or functioning permanent real time monitoring stations. This denies our communities access to environmental data and prevents authorities charged with managing environmental health from providing an evidence-based program of action.