Inform yourself about the effects of air pollutants, especially ozone and particulate matter that is emitted by diesel motors, biomass and other sources on critical organs. Learn about the heightened risks of heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases that can result.
Inform your patients about the health risks of air pollution, its major sources, and the particular risks faced by children, the elderly, people suffering from asthma, and the poor, as well as households using biomass, coal or kerosene for cooking, heating or lighting.
Advocate for national and local air pollution standards based on WHO air quality guidelines, which are carefully developed in light of the death and disease evidence about ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution at different concentrations.
Advocate for routine monitoring and reporting of air pollution levels locally and nationally, particularly PM2.5 and ozone, along with health harmful pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic particles. More
Assess your local death and diseases tool from air pollution, using reliable and easy-to-use, models like WHO’s AirQ+. You can also estimate health care costs from air pollution, based on days lost from school and work, as well as your local health care costs.
Due to their critical need for consistent power and heat, hospitals can reduce their contribution to air pollution by developing clean, on-site power generation using strategies such as combined heat and power generation (CHP) that harness otherwise wasted heat produced for building use.
Natural and mixed mode ventilation reduces costs, pollution and improves air exchange for better infection control over purely mechanical systems. This dovetails with energy-efficient building design such as windows and greenery to protect from extreme heat or cold and screens to protect against disease-bearing insects.
Small PV solar systems or hybrid solar-fuel based systems offer particular efficiencies for off-grid clinics and hospitals as well as urban facilities with unreliable power access. PV panels operate during daylight and off-peak hours while generators pitch in for heavier loads. Estimate costs and feasibility using USAID-developed HOMER software.
Poor healthcare waste management increases pollution from uncontrolled incineration as well as increasing certain infectious and chronic disease risks. Separate out hazardous wastes at the source that must be specially treated from more general waste, that could be composted, reprocessed or recycled.
Better management can include rainwater harvesting or reuse of “greywater” from sources such as laundries or kitchens for other purposes. Reducing energy required for extraction and transport also cuts pollution and lowers health facilities’ costs while protecting availability of clean drinking water.
Low-voltage medical devices powered by batteries, which can be recharged by PV solar systems, improve access to vital procedures, especially in developing regions lacking reliable electricity. A pattern of “reverse innovation” is emerging with higher-income regions using these devices to reduce energy consumption and improving patient care.
Using a “cradle to grave approach” including procurement of more environmentally-friendly materials wherever possible, storing optimal, not excessive stock and careful separation of hazardous healthcare waste from other plastics, glass, metal and biodegradables that can be recycled or reprocessed.
New video-conferencing technology can facilitate home health care and remote fieldwork, allowing for easy access to underserved communities, while cutting down on the emissions generated by travel.
Cities across the world are taking steps to reduce air pollution.
Call on your leaders to become a BreatheLife city.