The U.S. Embassy in Madagascar and Comoros joins the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Forest Service, and U.S. embassies around the world in celebrating the 15th annual Air Quality Awareness Week this May 3 -7 under the theme of “Healthy Air -Important for Everyone.
Air quality matters because air pollution is a large and growing global threat to human health. The WHO reports that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants. In fact, about 7 million people die each year as a result of exposure to air pollution – and 4.2 million of those deaths are from outdoor air pollution.
Air pollution occurs when harmful substances are released into the Earth’s atmosphere from sources such as manufacturing and energy production facilities, motor vehicles, cooking activities, field burning, forest fires, dust, and landfills or waste sites. Poor air quality can negatively affect human health, economies, and the environment.
The U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo’s Andranomena district uses an air quality monitor on its grounds to measure PM 2.5 particulates – that is particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – as an indication of air quality. Often referred to as “fine” particulates, PM 2.5 particulates are believed to pose the greatest health risks for sensitive populations, including those with heart or lung disease, children, and older adults, because they are small enough to directly enter the lungs and bloodstream.
The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a formula to convert PM 2.5 particulate readings into an air quality index (AQI) value that can help inform health-related decisions. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value more than300indicates hazardous air quality.
More data from the embassy’s air quality monitor can also be found on EPA’sAirNowwebsite the same site the EPA uses to display U.S. domestic air quality data.
In the spirit of scientific collaboration, the U.S. Embassy is proud to share this data with scientists, Government of Madagascar officials, and Malagasy citizens alike. The United States is a global leader in air quality policy, science, and technology, and a critical component of U.S. success in reducing air pollution specifically has been the government’s consistent, transparent, and reliable air quality monitoring efforts.