WHO: 99% of Global Population Breathes Poor Quality Air

A full 99% of the global population breathes unhealthy air, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 4.

According to new data from WHO, billions of people living in over 6,000 cities in 117 countries are breathing unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a common urban pollutant.

People in low- and middle-income countries suffer the highest exposure to poor quality air, WHO said.

Particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke), and respiratory impacts, WHO said.

NO2 is associated with respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, WHO said.

WHO found that the air in 17% of cities in high-income countries fall below its Air Quality Guidelines for fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 or PM10.

Meanwhile, less than 1% of cities in low- and middle-income countries complies with WHO recommended thresholds.

WHO also found that NO2 patterns showed less difference between the high- and low- and middle-income countries.

Only 23% of people in about 4,000 cities or human settlements in 74 countries that collect NO2 data meet levels in the WHO Air Quality Guidelines.

“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have seven million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” WHO Environment, Climate Change, and Health Director Maria Neira said.

“That’s what we’re saying when we look at the mountain of air pollution data, evidence, and solutions available. Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air,” Neira further said.


© Fourth Estate® — All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.