Policy Briefs

Air quality in Georgia: need for urgent policy solutions
Wednesday, 01 February, 2023

Pollution is an existential threat to modern society, one which endangers both human and planetary health. It includes contaminating the air with ozone, sulfur, nitrogen-containing nitrous oxides, and delicate particulate matter (PM2.5). Reduction of air pollution is a key aspect of Green Growth, which, together with attaining the goals of the Paris Agreement, could save around a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 (Rijsberman, 2019). According to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, air pollution was the world’s most significant environmental risk factor for disease and premature death in 2019 – responsible for around 9 million premature deaths (Fuller et al., 2022). With 6.7 million fatalities, air pollution (including home and ambient air pollution) continues to be the leading cause of mortality among the distinct forms of pollution. International literature discusses the striking effects of air pollution on health and the diseases it causes. For example, evidence reveals that people who were exposed to black smoke (living in urban areas) for 8-9 years were associated with greater mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (Beverland et al., 2012); furthermore, long-term (12-year observation) exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases (Zhang et al., 2011). Finally, long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is even a risk factor for mental health disorders, ranging from subjective stress to suicide ideation (Shin, Park, & Choi, 2018).