Pollution is a significant cause of health problems worldwide. Urban and rural outdoor environments contain toxicants and irritants that can reduce the quality of life and cause disease.
There are five obvious sources of air pollution - the burning of fossil fuels, the cutting of forests and burning of slash, the increasing use of agricultural and industrial chemicals, the continued smoking of tobacco products, the creation if indoor work and living environments which concentrate air contaminants and create "sick buildings."
Every year, approximately 1,000 new chemicals are developed and added to the 70,000 chemicals, 9 million mixtures, formulations and blends of chemicals already in commercial use. Few of these chemicals have been adequately assessed for their potential toxicity, either individually or in combination with other chemicals.
Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. A decrease in indoor air quality is the result of reduced ventilation and efficient construction practices, sealing homes and office buildings from the outdoor environment. Reduced ventilation contributes to the "Sick Building Syndrome" (SBS) with symptoms such as headache, fatigue, malaise, mental confusion, eye and throat irritation, coughing and wheezing. Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS, is thought to arise through the combined effects of a number of chemicals in concentrations that might not be harmful alone.
The really sad part of our current predicament is that all the right ideas for creating a healthy environment have been around for decades and have been clearly articulated in many forms by a host of intelligent people. The right ideas involve unselfish and compassionate
behaviour. The right ideas involve long-term planning, conservation and deep commitment to preserving the natural world. Without a healthy natural environment, there will be few or no healthy humans. All our big environmental problems are built from many small, personal decisions - little mistakes that add up over time. If there is a solution, it will emerge from the collective value of millions of better decisions made by individuals all over the globe. The environmental action plan is to think globally and act locally - it does make sense.