WHO: 92% of the World’s Population Lives in Places with Unsafe Levels of Air Pollution

A new air quality model from the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that 92% of the world lives in places where air pollution levels exceed WHO limits.

A new WHO air quality model makes a startling confirmation — 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO safe limits.

The model, based on data acquired from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3000 urban and rural locations, represents the most detailed outdoor air pollution-related health data, by country, ever reported by WHO

Some 3 million deaths a year can be attributed to outdoor (ambient) air pollution, with another 3.5 million linked to indoor air pollution. Nearly 90% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and 94% of these deaths are due to noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

“Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children and the older adults,” says Dr Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director General. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.”

WHO hopes this improved air pollution data will help to drive solutions to the global issue of air pollution. As WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Maria Neira explains, “Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough. Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions.”

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