The most health-damaging particles are very tiny (10 microns or less in diameter), and can penetrate deep inside our lungs. The main health problems associated with air pollution are respiratory diseases, some of which can give rise to heart disease, but pollution can also lead to vitamin D deficiency, cancer, and birth defects. Clearly, air pollution is not a recent problem – it has had a long history. Looking back into the archaeological record for its effects on our ancestors’ bones provides the deep-time perspective to understanding the problem today. Have we learnt any lessons? By 2050, more than 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, and we will all need to come together and help to mitigate air pollution, for the sake of our world’s health.
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