Air pollution killing 7 million annually, Says WHO.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded an alarm with revelation that exposure to air pollution causes at least seven million premature deaths per year globally.
According to WHO, the burden of disease is attributable to air pollution is now on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking.
As a result, after a systematic review of the accumulated evidence, WHO has adjusted almost all the Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) levels in a bid to mitigate the alarming number and save millions of lives.
“Improving air quality can enhance climate change mitigation efforts, while reducing emissions will in turn improve air quality. By striving to achieve these guideline levels, countries will be both protecting health as well as mitigating global climate change.” Said WHO.
The new guidelines recommend air quality levels for 6 pollutants including ozone (O₃), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) sulfur dioxide (SO₂) and carbon monoxide (CO), it also has an impact on other damaging pollutants; PM10 and PM2.5 which are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs
PM is primarily generated by fuel combustion in different sectors, including transport, energy, households, industry, and from agriculture.
The guidelines also highlight good practices for the management of certain types of particulate matter including, black carbon/elemental carbon, ultrafine particles, particles originating from sand and dust storms which are applicable to both outdoor and indoor environments globally, and cover all settings.
Speaking on global air pollution, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it’s a threat to health in all countries with those living in low- and middle-income countries being affected the most.
“WHO’s new Air Quality Guidelines are an evidence-based and practical tool for improving the quality of the air on which all life depends. I urge all countries and all those fighting to protect our environment to put them to use to reduce suffering and save lives.” Said Dr Tedros
In 2019, more than 90 percent of the global population lived in areas where concentrations exceeded the 2005 WHO air quality guideline for long term exposure to PM2.5, this is according to WHO.
Should the current air pollution levels be reduced to those proposed in the new guidelines, WHO says almost 80 percent of deaths related to PM2.5 could be avoided in the world.