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Air Pollution and Sustainable Development

XVI SDE Seminar Series towards Rio+20
Sustainable Development and Environmental Health – SDE – PAHO/WHO

Wednesday May 23rd, 2012 – In English with simultaneous translation to Spanish
Time: 12:00 am – 1:30 pm – EDT (Washington, DC USA) To check your time zone, see the World Clock

Website: Website PAHO/WHO Rio+20 at:

Environmental Health Inequalities in Europe. Assessment Report
EURO/WHO 2012 PDF [212p.] at:
The current Rio+20 zero draft of the outcome document includes the following paragraph:

“………..We commit to promote an integrated and holistic approach to planning and building sustainable cities through support to local authorities, efficient transportation and communication networks, greener buildings and an efficient human settlements and service delivery system,
improved air and water quality, reduced waste, improved disaster preparedness and response and increased climate resilience……….

“……Industry, transport, information and societal development in general, have combined during the past centuries in a very productive way to human kind. Thanks to this today’s modern societies enjoy the comfort of terrestrial, areal and maritime transportation; a massive amount of goods and services hand reachable, and information and communications 24/7 around the world. However, these developments have produced different air pollutants such as gases (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, methanol, volatile organics, etc.) and a varied amount of particulate emissions (diesel, carbon, lead, silica, etc.). All together they have strongly polluted our planet, particularly our atmosphere.

Analyzing the sources of air pollution, mobile sources represented in road and air transportation are considered to be the biggest air polluters, enhanced by urban sprawl, traffic density and long commutes. While within the fixed sources industry, household combustion devices and agricultural/forest fire emissions are considered to contribute the most. Consequently, smog hanging over cities is probably the most familiar and visible form of air pollution that does contribute to global warming, the greenhouse effect, the climatic changes, within other phenomena, and it also yields very deleterious health effects in humans and all living forms and creatures on the planet.

WHO estimates that 2.4 million people die per year because of air pollution. Some studies even show that at a global level, deaths are more attributable to air pollution than to automobile accidents. People suffering from respiratory diseases, as well as children and elderly are much more vulnerable to be affected. Short-term effects on human health usually are eye, nose and throat irritations, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Long-term effects are often more severe, including chronic respiratory diseases, lung cancer, heart disease, brain/neurological damages and liver diseases, within others.

This seminar will address some of these problems that certainly affect human populations around the world and that should help position health within the context of human sustainable development.


12:00      Introduction: Agnes Soares, Moderator, Regional Advisor Sustainable Development and Environmental Health PAHO/WHO

12:05      Air Pollution, Health and Sustainable Energy considerations for Sustainable Development:

Daniel S. Greenbaum, President, Health Effects Institute

12:20      A National Perspective on intervention on Urban Air Pollution for Health in Sustainable Development in Mexico:
Leonora Rojas-Bracho, Director General
Urban and Regional Contamination National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, Mexico

12:30      Transportation policies and air pollution:
Dinesh Mohan, Volvo Chair Professor Emeritus, Transport Research and Injury Prevention Program,
WHO Collaborating Centre. Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India

12:40      The challenge on air pollution and sustainable development from the Ministry of Health of Chile:
Victor Berrios, Chief Air Quality Surveillance Network (R.M), “Seremi de Salud R.M

12:50      Investing for Sustainable Development: Addressing the priorities in Latin American Cities:

Juan Carlos Belaustenguigoitia. World Bank’s Senior Environmental Economist

1 :00      Commentary:  Nelson Gouveia, São Paulo University Medical School, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

1:10      Discussion

1:30      Adjourn

How to participate

In person:
525 23rd ST NW
Washington DC, 20037 Room B – 12h to 13:30h Eastern Time (WDC)

Online: via Elluminate link:

– Spanish room:

– English room

Related material:

Health impacts of Air Pollution –
Publications on environmental burdens of disease –

Environmental health inequalities in Europe. Assessment report EURO/WHO

SDE Seminar Series towards Rio+20

For those who cannot follow the live seminar, we will have it available later at PAHO Rio+20 Toolkit at:

Food Security

No 15 Food Security, Health and Sustainable Development

Global Sustainable Development
No.14 Global Sustainable Development and Environmental Health- Joint Discussion with the US Institute of Medicine

Sustainable Development Indicators
No.13  Health at the heart of Sustainable Development Indicators

Economic – social aspects Non Communicable Diseases

No.12  Economic and social aspects of Non Communicable Diseases NCDs

Non Communicable Diseases

No.11 Non Communicable Diseases and Sustainable Development

Workers health

No.10 Green Economy /Green Jobs: Health Risks & Benefits

Regional Experiences

No. 9 The Voice and Experience of the Caribbean Islands towards SD

Road Safety

No.  8 Road Safety and Public Transportation towards Sustainable Development:
an agenda for health for Rio+20


No. 7 Globalization and Health Equity towards Sustainable Development

Civil Society

No. 6 The Voices of Civil Society – Creating the Healthy Future

Working Environments
No. 5 Employment and working conditions for Sustainable Development

The Environment

No. 4 Amazon Region: Environment and Health in the Context of Sustainable Development

Climate Change

No. 3 Climate Change and health in the context of Rio+20


No. 2 Water and Sanitation

Sustainable Development

No. 1 Public Health Challenges


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