No less than 92% of the world’s inhabitants live in places where levels of air quality do not meet the norms set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a report released Tuesday.
“Early action to address air pollution is urgently needed,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director of Public Health Department at WHO. “There are solutions, including more sustainable transport systems, solid waste management, the use of stoves and cleaner fuels for households as well as renewable energy and the reduction of industrial emissions,” she added.
The report is based on data from 3,000 places, mainly cities throughout the world. It was developed in collaboration with the University of Bath in the UK.
According to the report, 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air quality levels do not match the levels set by the WHO on the quality of ambient air for fine particles whose diameter is less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5).
The limits set by the WHO for these particles are an average of 10g/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). PM2.5 include pollutants such as sulphate, nitrate and black carbon, which penetrate deep into the lungs and the cardiovascular system, representing a serious risk to human health.
According to the WHO the major sources of pollution are “inefficient modes of transport, household fuels, the burning of waste, power plants fueled by coal and industrial activities.” Some three million deaths per year are related to exposure to air pollution outdoors, according to the WHO.