9 out of 10 people in the world live with excessive air pollution
Take a deep breath as 92% of the world's population lives in places where air pollution levels exceeds the recommended limits and 6.5 million people die annually from air pollution. This is what the UN World Health Organization has stated in its latest profile.
Their work includes a new air quality model which includes interactive maps that highlight the areas where WHO limits are exceeded. It is the most detailed outdoor air pollution-related health data produces and was done in collaboration with the University of Bath, UK.
"This new model is a big step forward towards even more confident estimates of the huge global burden of more than six million deaths – one in nine of total global deaths – from exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution," told WHO top environmental official, Maria Neira to IPS.
Nearly 90% of the deaths related to air pollution happen in low and middle income countries, with nearly two thirds occurring in the South-east Asia and Western Pacific regions.
In Latin America, Mexico City is known to have an air pollution problem. The city was named by the UN in 1992 "the most polluted city on the planet." This year alone, pollution levels were classified as detrimental to health and its related with absenteeism in schools in the area.
“Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children and the older adults,” WHO’s Assistant Director General Flavia Bustreo told IPS. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last,” she added.
94% of the deaths are due to non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Sources of pollution include household fuel and waste burning, transportation, coal-fired power plants and industrial activities. Other causes that affect air quality are dust storms, common in regions close to deserts.
The Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda adopted in 2015 call for substantially reducing the number of deaths and illnesses related to air pollution.
“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,” Dr. Neira added.
In a previous LatinAmerican Post article we discussed the benefits of BioLite a eco friendly home stove that produced less pollution by using its waste to generate electricity. This project is being implemented in areas where access to energy isn't available at all times and as a way to reduce the use of polluting cook stoves.
More efforts like this need to be implemented to reduce the death toll and illnesses excessive air pollution is causing around the world.