Chapter

Clinical Handbook of Air Pollution-Related Diseases: Conclusions

Authors:
  • Italian Society of Digital Health and Telemedicine
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Abstract

Air pollution is a global concern. The Earth has gone through a number of phases and natural selections that have marked the history of our species. Epochal changes have influenced those processes, such as major catastrophes, plagues, famines, and pandemics. Air pollution, although not new, may signal the rise of a new era, being able to modify locally and globally the composition of the air that we breathe, which ultimately is what keeps us alive. For these reasons, actions need to be taken, starting from the definition of a new medical category. Air pollution–related diseases are those diseases and acute, subacute, chronic, and permanent medical conditions that are directly or indirectly related to, triggered, promoted, facilitated, or caused by air pollution at the macro, micro, genetic, and molecular levels, regardless of the type of exposure or the timing of the exposure. The extent of this problem is reaching a level of concern worldwide, in both developing and highly developed countries. As every individual may be potentially affected by air pollution, shared policies are needed to foster coordinated plans of intervention and research, aimed at reducing emissions; cleaning up the environment where it is already polluted and preserving those areas that are free from pollution; reducing the risks of exposure; and protecting communities and individuals, with particular attention to the most vulnerable categories such as children, the elderly, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Failure to do so may lead to devastating consequences and to an unsustainable burden for people and societies. Possible solutions include creation of networks of research and environmental administration at local, national and international levels, aimed at improving the level of education, health promotion, data sharing, research, coordination and planning; implementing environmentally friendly policies, monitoring and data analysis processes, and community-based and individual protection measures; and enhancing our quality of life and ultimately the air that we breathe.

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