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Book Chapter

Air Pollution, Oxidative Stress, and Public Health in the Anthropocene


Pöschl,  Ulrich
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Pöschl, U. (2020). Air Pollution, Oxidative Stress, and Public Health in the Anthropocene. In W. K. Al-Delaimy (Ed.), Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility (pp. 79-92). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-605C-6
Air pollution severely affects air quality, climate, and public health in the Anthropocene, which is the present era of globally pervasive anthropogenic influence on planet Earth. Thus, we need to understand how humanity can best deal with the sources and effects of air pollutants in relation to economic development, human welfare, and environmental preservation. Recent advances in scientific research provide deep insights into the underlying physical, chemical, and biological processes that link air pollution with health effects and reveal the relative importance of different pollutants and sources, including natural and anthropogenic contributions. This knowledge enables the development of efficient strategies and policies to mitigate and counteract the adverse effects of air pollution on the Earth system, climate, and human health (“planetary health”). Building on open access to scholarly publications and data, a global commons of scholarly knowledge in the sciences and humanities will help to augment, communicate, and utilize the scientific understanding. Moreover, public peer review, interactive discussion, and documentation of the scientific discourse on the internet can serve as examples and blueprints for rational and transparent approaches to resolving complex questions and issues (“epistemic web”). With regard to the development, societal communication, and political implementation of appropriate policies for air quality management, it seems worthwhile to emphasize that climate and health effects are two facets of global environmental change that can be and need to be handled together. The Anthropocene notion may help humanity to recognize both rationally and emotionally: We are shaping our planet and environment, so let us get it right.