Emanating from smokestacks, vehicle engines, construction projects, and fires large and small, airborne pollution – sometimes smaller than the width of a human hair, and very often the product of human activity – is not just contributing to climate change. It is a leading driver of heart disease and stroke, lung cancer, and respiratory infections the world over. Exposure to such pollution, the most deadly of which scientists call PM2.5, is the sixth highest risk factor for death around the world, claiming more than 4 million lives annually, according to recent global morbidity data. Add in household pollutants from indoor cooking fires and other combustion sources, and the tally approaches 7 million lives lost each year.
Undark and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting visited seven countries on five continents, rich and poor, north and south, to examine the impacts of this sort of air pollution on the lives of everyday people, and to uncover what’s being done — or not — to address this ambient and ultimately controllable killer. As it stands, developing nations bear the brunt of the problem, but particulate pollution doesn’t discriminate, and the odds are high that wherever you live, you’re breathing it in, too.
This resource provides valuable information on a variety of countries that are greatly impacted by poor air quality along with definitions of the many terms used for discussion centered around the issue. There are videos, datasets, and articles on each focus country (Source).
Undark is a non-profit, editorially independent digital magazine exploring the intersection of science and society. It is published with generous funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, through its Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program at MIT.
Undark was co-founded in 2016, under the auspices of the Knight Science Journalism Program, by journalists Deborah Blum and Tom Zeller Jr. Today, it is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and is managed by a small, dedicated, and widely distributed team of editors, writers, and support personnel.
The name Undark arises from a murky, century-old mingling of science and commerce — one that resulted in a radium-based industrial and consumer product, called Undark, that was both awe-inspiring and, as scientists would only later prove, toxic and deadly. We appropriate the name as a signal to readers that our magazine will explore science not just as a “gee-whiz” phenomenon, but as a frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproduct of human culture.
As such, the intersection of science and society — the place where science is articulated in our politics and our economics; or where it is made potent and real in our everyday lives — is a fundamental part of our mission at Undark. As journalists, we recognize that science can often be politically, economically and ethically fraught, even as it captures the imagination and showcases the astonishing scope of human endeavor. Undark will therefore aim to explore science in both light and shadow, and to bring that exploration to a broad, international audience.
Undark is not interested in “science communication” or related euphemisms, but in true journalistic coverage of the sciences (Source).