The media in South and South East Asia have misled the people on the crucial issue of Air Pollution as revealed by the Vital Strategies, a US-based public health institution.
In the report titled as the “Hazy Perceptions” the institution analysed more than half a million social media posts between the year 2015 to 2018 in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia and Pakistan.
“Our report finds that public perceptions about air pollution do not match the evidence,” said Anjali Mehta, a member of the study team.
Every year more than 4 million people lose their lives due because of Air Pollution and around 1.5 million or 37% of these deaths accounts to the South and South East Asia.
Air Pollution impacts on India
The second most populous country India accounts the most deaths in the world due to Air Pollution and also accounts for 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities in the world.
Around 12.4 lakh deaths were recorded in 2017 as reported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and The Lancet.
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The report found that people of the country mentioned vehicular emissions as the major source of Air Pollution while more signiﬁcant sources like power plants and waste burning were ignored. A recent study by Clean Air Collective in India showed that 90% of Indians questioned across highly polluted cities do not know the causes and effects of air pollution.
Not only in India most countries were found to be discussing Vehicular Emissions as the major source of Air Pollution.
Long Term impacts of Air Pollution
The media also focused on the short term impacts of Air Pollution as coughing and itching, not the long term chronic exposure as Cancer.
Beyond deaths, Air Pollution leads to disability from lung and heart disease, contributes to Diabetes, inability to perform physical activities and negatively influences children’s physical and cognitive development. The reports
Its shocking that the public health authorities do not influence the conversation on air pollution, but a photographer, international NGO Green Peace and an activist were on top leading influencers list.
The report also found that posts related to the chronic effects of air pollution of children received more engagement on social media.