While fictitious ghosts and ghouls capture the world's imagination over Halloween, a real invisible killer claims thousands of South Africans’ lives each year.

South Africa’s Mpumalanga province has been identified as the world’s number one NO2 hotspot. But what is NO2 and why should we be concerned? NO2 is a dangerous pollutant that’s released into the air when coal is burnt. It damages our lungs, and causes asthma and lung cancer.

The frightening reality is that air pollution from coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga isn’t confined to this province. It blows over to Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Here are five killer facts that you should know about air pollution and NO2 and how they can affect your health.

  1. The World Health Organization who have called air pollution “a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths”. Around 20,000 South Africans die from air pollution every year.

  1. NO2 decreases your body’s ability to fight off lung infections. Short-term exposure to NO2 causes wheezing, flu and bronchitis and long-term exposure causes increased rates of heart disease.

  1. 95% of the people in the world breathes unsafe air - in fact, only one in every 20 people in the world breathes air that is considered safe.

  1. During pregnancy, air pollution increases the risk of a low birth weight, which could lead to serious health problems for newborns.

  1. Living in highly polluted cities can double your risk of stroke by damaging the inner lining of your veins and arteries.

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Comprehensive Briefing Document South Africa