What are air pollutants?
Air pollutants are substances that are harmful to human health and biodiversity. In 2019, 99% of the world population lived in places where the strictest 2021 air quality guideline levels adopted by the World Health Organization were not met – according to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to public health globally and accounts for an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year. Air pollution and climate change are closely linked as all major pollutants have an impact on the climate and most share common sources with greenhouse gases (GHG). The most dangerous air pollutants are fine particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, a.k.a. PM2.5.
Even though air pollution is a global problem, it disproportionately affects those living in developing nations and particularly the most vulnerable, such as women, children and the elderly. Improving our air quality will bring health, development, and environmental benefits.
Where do air pollutants come from?
There is an inherent relationship between air pollutant emissions and GHG emissions, for example, scope 1 (fuel used by fleets) or scope 2 (electricity produced from non-renewable resources, such as coal, still used in many countries). GHG are gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and contribute to Global warming.
How is A.S. Watson Group reducing air pollutants from its operations?
In 2022, A.S. Watson (ASW) Group announced new science-based targets validated by the organisation Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). For scopes 1 and 2, ASW is committed to reducing its GHG emissions by 50.4% by 2030 from a 2018 base year.
Reducing air pollutant emissions within ASW’s supply chain will contribute to the reduction in scope 1 emissions. While switching our electricity from coal or gas to more renewable sources such as wind, solar or biomass, will contribute to our reduction in scope 2 emission.
How individuals, like you and me, can help?
Let’s take the following actions to reduce air pollution:
- Turning off electrical appliances when not in use
- Using more public transportation
- Biking, or walking whenever possible
- Supporting clean air and green energy legislations
- Use paints with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)