By: Gordon McGranahan and Frank Murray

Pollution, for that matter air pollution is a term that most residing in developing nations are well aware of! For them, air pollution may not be 'the presence of substances in air at concentrations, durations and frequencies that adversely affect human health, human welfare or the environment'. But it is omnipresent invading their every waking hour in the most menacing manner.

Do you know?
  • Ancient human beings also suffered from blackening of lung tissue through long exposure to particulate air in smoky dwellings.

  • Unhealthy air was the suspected cause of disease long before the relationship could be scientifically confirmed.

The book, spread over 227 pages, with tables and diagrams is as black and white as the subject it deals with. But leaf through the pages and depth of the research is astounding. Beginning from history, the book goes on to synthesize policy-relevant knowledge on air pollution and health, thereby providing a firm basis for improving public health in low- and middle-income countries.

The information presented is of particular relevance to middle-income countries where urban concentrations of health-damaging pollutants are often among the highest in the world, and preventive and protective measures are still at an early stage. It is also relevant for low-income countries where air pollution problems tend to be more localized, but can be very severe when they do arise.

The chapters cover a range of topics relevant to local air pollution management. Studies from Europe and North America, where the research is comparatively advanced, are reviewed to provide insights into the relationships between some of the most critical air pollutants. These are compared to the less researched Asian, African, and Latin American countries. The comparison leads to the identification of tools and systems for air pollution management - a resource that is scarce.

From the health effects of diesel engine exhaust to that of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, indoor air pollution and even vehicle emission - the book is indeed an encyclopedia on the subject.

Reprinted with the kind permission of TerraGreen.