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BANGKOK – Furcht erregende Geschichten über wandernden indonesischen Dunst, Smog in Nordindien nach Diwali und die Rückkehr der „Airpokalypse“ in China haben die jüngsten Sorgen über die Luftverschmutzung in Asien zum Thema. Partikelverschmutzung im Freien ist nicht auf Asien beschränkt und verursacht weltweit jährlich über 3,1 Millionen Todesopfer, fünfmal so viele wie Malaria und fast doppelt so viele wie AIDS.

Schmutzteilchen in der Luft, insbesondere Feinstaub (kleiner als 2,5 Mikrometer oder etwa so groß wie der Durchmesser einer Spinnwebe), dringen tief in die Lunge ein, gehen von dort aus in den Blutkreislauf über und verursachen kardiopulmonale Krankheiten, Krebs und vielleicht auch Frühgeburten. Aber wie bedeutsam sind diese Gesundheitsrisiken?

Leider ist die Diskussion über dieses Thema oft sehr unklar. Schlechte Luftqualität wird oft als das Erreichen eines bestimmten „AQI-Grads“ (Air Quality Index, Luftqualitätsindex) definiert oder mit einem Wert oberhalb eines gewissen Standards der Weltgesundheitsorganisation beschrieben. Aber die Öffentlichkeit kann die Lage besser verstehen, wenn sie in Begriffe gefasst werden, die sich leicht mit vertrauteren Gefahren vergleichen lassen.

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