About 99% of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds the World Health Organization’s air quality limits, with people in low- and middle-income countries most exposed to pollution, according to the latest UN agency database.
The agency’s report includes data on air pollution such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide – both of which are found in fossil fuel emissions and accused of certain respiratory and cardiac conditions – for the years between 2010 and 2019 and covers more than 6,000 cities in 117 countries .
Air pollution kills at least 7 million people prematurely every year.
The levels of small and dangerous particles in the air, called particles, in regions of Africa and the Western Pacific were almost eight times the agency’s guidelines, while the lowest levels were observed in Europe, according to WHO.
In the 117 countries where air quality was controlled, less than 1% of cities in low- and middle-income countries met WHO-recommended pollution thresholds. In contrast, only 17% of cities in high-income countries fall under the WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines for particulate matter.
Nitrogen dioxide levels in low- and middle-income countries were about 1.5 times higher than in high-income countries.
“The urgency of tackling the twin health challenges of air pollution and climate change underscores the urgent need to move faster towards a world that is much less dependent on fossil fuels,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In response to increasing levels of air pollution, the WHO changed its annual average limits for particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide last year, making them stricter.
The latest database includes proposed steps that governments can take to improve air quality, including implementing stricter standards for car emissions, improving public transport and cutting back on incineration of agricultural waste, among others.
Poor people lag behind countries with higher incomes in air quality standards: WHO – SABC News
Source link Poor people lag behind countries with higher incomes in air quality standards: WHO – SABC News