Nine out of ten people globally are breathing poor quality air, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.
In a staggering report, calling for dramatic action against pollution that is blamed for killing more than 16,000 Brits and six million people worldwide, every year.
New data in a report from the UN’s global health body ‘is enough to make all of us extremely concerned,’ Maria Neira, the head of the WHO’s department of public health and environment, told reporters.
This interactive maps provides information on population-weighted exposure to pollutants known as PM2.5, for all countries. The map also indicates data on monitoring stations for PM10 and PM2.5 values for 3,000 cities and towns.
WHO released an interactive map showing the exposure to pollutants known as PM2.5 for all countries.
It also shows values for pollutants in various cities and towns.
The problem is most acute in cities, the report found, but air in rural areas is worse than many think, WHO experts said.
Poorer countries have much dirtier air than the developed world, according to the report, but pollution ‘affects practically all countries in the world and all parts of society’, Mrs Neira said in a statement.
‘It is a public health emergency,’ she said.
‘Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough,’ she added, urging governments to cut the number of vehicles on the road, improve waste management and promote clean cooking fuel.
Tuesday’s report was based on data collected from more than 3,000 sites across the globe.
Nearly 3 million deaths a year are attributed to exposure to outdoor air pollution with an estimated 6.5 million deaths attributed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure in 2012. Breakdown by countries in 2012 is shown.
WHO released an interactive map showing the exposure to pollutants known as PM2.5 for all countries. It also shows values for pollutants in various cities and towns.
It found that ’92 per cent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits’.
The data focuses on dangerous particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, or PM2.5.
PM2.5 includes toxins like sulfate and black carbon, which can penetrate deep into the lungs or cardiovascular system.
Air with more than 10 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM2.5 on an annual average basis is considered substandard.
‘Air pollution continues [to] take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations women, children and the older adults,’ WHO’s Assistant Director General Flavia Bustreo said in a statement.
‘For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.’
Nine out of ten people globally are breathing poor quality air, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, calling for dramatic action. The problem is most acute in cities, but air in rural areas is worse than many think, WHO experts said
But indoor pollution can be equally as harmful, especially in poorer developing world homes where cooking often involves burning charcoal.
Nearly 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, the WHO said.
Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, including China, Malaysia and Vietnam, are the hardest hit, the data showed.
Carlos Dora, coordinator at the WHO’s public health and environment department, said that some of the strategies adopted to safeguard against polluted air have limited effectiveness.
In December 2015 ten cities in China were on ‘red alert’ for smog. Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, including China, Malaysia and Vietnam, are the hardest hit, the data showed.
For example, daily air quality warnings like those sometimes issued in Beijing — likely do little to help the average person, since the real threat is exposure to sub-par air over extended periods.
Staying indoors on a day when the air is particularly bad accomplishes little, Dora said.
Additionally, the WHO has seen no conclusive evidence that face masks do much to filter dirty air, Dora added.
Using a different data set, the WHO reported in May that 80 percent of the world’s city dwellers breathe poor quality air, a figure that rose to 98 percent in poorer countries.
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