A new World Health Organisation (WHO) model confirms that 92 per cent of the global population lives in places where air quality levels exceed recommended limits.
The WHO, yesterday, in its bulletin, said information is presented via interactive maps, highlighting areas within countries that exceed its recommended limits.
The interactive maps developed by WHO in collaboration with the University of Bath, United Kingdom, represents the most detailed outdoor (or ambient) air pollution-related health data, by country, ever reported by WHO.
The model is based on data derived from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3000 locations, both rural and urban. According to the WHO, some three million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 per cent of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
The United Nations (UN) apex health body said nearly 90 per cent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly two out of three occurring in WHO’s South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
“Ninety-four per cent are due to non-communicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections,” it noted.
To address the situation, the WHO is rolling out BreatheLife, a global communications campaign to increase public awareness of air pollution as a major health and climate risk. BreatheLife is led by WHO in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants. The campaign stresses both the practical policy measures that cities can implement (such as better housing, transport, waste, and energy systems) and measures people can take as communities or individuals (for example, to stop waste burning, promote green spaces and walking/cycling) to improve our air.
Assistant Director General at WHO, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, told the WHO Bulletin:
According the WHO, major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities.