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Smog. Smoke. Soot.



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Breath is often described as a life force, and yet 91% of the world’s population lives in a place with unsafe air quality, according to the World Health Organization’s guidelines. Sometimes we can see the smog hovering above our cities or feel the smoke as we inhale air into our lungs. But more often than not, air pollution is a silent killer: we hardly notice it’s there, and yet it causes nearly nine million premature deaths each year—a bigger killer than tobacco, accounting for as much as 16% of all global deaths annually, as The Guardian reported recently.
 
New research shows that air pollution has the potential to damage “every organ and virtually every cell in the human body”, the article stated. Once we pull toxic air into our lungs, the ultrafine particles make their way into our bloodstream, wreaking havoc as they travel throughout the body: “from heart and lung disease to diabetes and dementia, and from liver problems and bladder cancer to brittle bones and damaged skin”.

World Environment Day 2019 is rallying us to #beatairpollution. Help spread the word, dear writers—tell us about an experience you’ve had with poor air quality. What caused it? What impact did it have on you and your community? What changes are needed to curb air pollution in your pocket of the globe?

To see how two of your fellow Write the World writers approached this prompt, check out "A Hazy Future" by PalmLeaf and "Shifting the blame: colonialism and its effect on climate-related initiatives in developing countries" by ruzahk.