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Unhealthy air around the globe

Nine out of 10 people across the world are breathing bad air, according to new data from the United Nations, which is calling on all member States to urgently do something about it.

14 May 2018

Nine out of 10 people across the world are breathing bad air, according to new data from the United Nations, which is calling on all member States to urgently do something about it.

The latest World Health Organization air pollution study found that more than 90 per cent of the global population is breathing in poor quality air.

Air pollution is responsible for seven million deaths a year.

While the problem affects people everywhere, it is those living in poorer countries who suffer the most.

Exacerbating the problem was the fact that more than 40 per cent of the global population work in their own homes with dirty cooking fuels and polluting technologies.

The use of dirty cooking fuel is a major source of household air pollution and contributes to 3.8 million premature deaths each year.

Outdoor air pollution is linked to 4.2 million fatalities annually.

“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalised people bear the brunt of the burden,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It is unacceptable that over three billion people – most of them women and children – are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes.”

The study found that more than 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries, and mostly in Asia and Africa.

WHO has described the situation as a “very dramatic problem we are facing” and warned that improvements made in addressing the situation were not even keeping pace with population growth in many parts of the world.

Strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections such as pneumonia are rising due to air pollution. Cities in the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia were found to have the highest ambient air pollution with some levels more than five times higher than what is considered safe.

WHO has called on governments everywhere to take strong and measurable action to reduce air pollutants and thereby improve the health of their citizens.

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 14 May 2018