• Saturday, Oct 16, 2021
  • Last Update : 08:33 pm

WHO says air pollution kills 7 million annually, toughens guidelines

  • Published at 07:46 pm September 22nd, 2021
Air pollution france
In this file photo taken on September 26, 2019 in Bonsecours, smoke billowing from a Seveso classified Lubrizol factory on fire in Rouen, northwestern France AFP

Southeast Asia is the worst-affected region, according to WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) strengthened its air quality guidelines on Wednesday, saying air pollution was now one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, causing seven million premature deaths a year.

It said urgent action was needed to reduce exposure to air pollution, ranking its burden of disease on a par with smoking and unhealthy eating.

"WHO has adjusted almost all the air quality guideline levels downwards, warning that exceeding the new... levels is associated with significant risks to health," it said.

"Adhering to them could save millions of lives."

The guidelines aim to protect people from the adverse effects of air pollution and are used by governments as a reference for legally-binding standards.

The UN health agency last issued air quality guidelines, or AQGs, in 2005, which had a significant impact on pollution abatement policies worldwide.

However, the WHO said in the 16 years since, a much stronger body of evidence had emerged, showing how air pollution impacts on health at lower concentrations than previously understood.


Also Read - Report: Funding needed to tackle life-shortening air pollution


"The accumulated evidence is sufficient to justify actions to reduce population exposure to key air pollutants, not only in particular countries or regions but on a global scale," the organisation said.

Southeast Asia hard-hit 

The new guidelines come just in time for the COP26 global climate summit held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

The WHO said that alongside climate change, air pollution was one of the biggest environmental threats to human health. Improving air quality would enhance climate change mitigation efforts, and vice versa, it said.

The WHO's new guidelines recommend air quality levels for six pollutants, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

The other two are PM10 and PM2.5 -- particulate matter equal or smaller than 10 and 2.5 microns in diameter.

Both are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs but research shows PM2.5 can even enter the bloodstream, primarily resulting in cardiovascular and respiratory problems, but also affecting other organs, said the WHO.

In response, the PM2.5 guideline level has been halved.

In 2019, more than 90% of the world's population lived in areas where concentrations exceeded the 2005 AQG for long-term PM2.5 exposure. Southeast Asia is the worst-affected region.


Also Read - Study: Clean air likely to raise life expectancy by 7.7 years in Dhaka


Premature deaths 

"Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries, but it hits people in low- and middle-income countries the hardest," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO said that while air quality had markedly improved since the 1990s in high-income countries, the global toll in deaths and lost years of healthy life had barely declined, as air quality had generally deteriorated in most other countries, in line with their economic development.

"Every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause seven million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life," the WHO said

In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma.

In adults, ischaemic heart disease -- also called coronary heart disease -- and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution.

Evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions, the organisation said.

The WHO said the burden of disease attributable to air pollution was "on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking".


53
Facebook 51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail