International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies Date in the current year: September 7, 2024

International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is a United Nations observance held annually on September 7. It was established by the UN General Assembly in order to raise public awareness about the two-fold problem of air pollution, which impacts both our health and the environment.

Perhaps everyone or almost everyone is aware of the detrimental effect of air pollution on human health: when we breathe polluted air, pollutant microparticles enter our lungs and bloodstream, causing chronic respiratory diseases and cardiovascular problems, and increasing the risk of death from stroke and lung cancer.

The impact of polluted air on the respiratory system became especially noticeable during the COVID-19 pandemic: studies have shown that high levels of air pollution (in combination with other risk factors, such as age or pre-existing chronic conditions) increase people’s vulnerability to the infection and can aggravate the patients’ condition.

Fewer people, however, are fully aware of the environmental impact of air pollution. The so-called short-lived climate pollutants have been linked to global warming. For example, tropospheric ozone–whose precursors are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds–is considered a greenhouse gas. Various particles are also believed to contribute to global warming.

According to the data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, over 90% of the world population was living in places where the level of air pollution didn’t meet the WHO air quality guidelines, and 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide (caused mostly by respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems or cancer) were linked to outdoor air pollution. Household air pollution is a big issue as well. Women, children and the elderly are most affected by air pollution, especially in low-income populations.

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce air pollution in various sectors, including industry, transport, urban planning, energy and power generation, and waste management. They include, but are not limited to, using clean technologies that reduce emissions, low-emissions fuels and renewable power sources, making cities more green and thus energy efficient, creating a green transport infrastructure, and more.

However, successful implementation of policies to reduce emissions and air pollution requires the cooperation of government agencies at all levels, business owners, and civil society. One of the goals of International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is to raise awareness of this and to encourage and stimulate such cooperation.

The United Nations General Assembly designated September 7 as International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies to remind about the importance of clean air for human health and the environment, as well as to unite governments, organizations, civil society and other relevant stakeholders around the world in the fight against air pollution. The observance of the day is facilitated by the UN Environment Program in collaboration with other relevant organizations.

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