A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China, December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, May 1, that air pollution still kills 7 million people each year, almost all of them in poor countries in Asia and Africa, and that 9 out of 10 people on the planet breathe in polluted air, following the release of its latest data on air pollution worldwide.
According to the health institution, about a quarter of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer can be attributed to air pollution.
These numbers have remained unchanged in the past years, with, globally, outdoor air pollution remaining high and largely unchanged, while indoor air pollution has got worse, as people in many poorer countries continue to cook with solid fuel or kerosene, instead of cleaner fuels such as gas and electricity. Women and children are the most at risk.
Director, Dr. Maria Neira of WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said almost half of the global population is “still cooking and heating and lightening their house” with solid fuels and wood which are not very clean fuels” and “this is having a very negative impact on their health.”
“This is something that we need to solve. We need to increase access to clean fuels, clean energy for this very important proportion of our population,” Dr. Neira added.
WHO’s global assessment is based on satellite data and modeling overlaid on the database of more than 4,300 cities, an almost 50% increase compared to WHO last report in 2016, and is self-selecting, because it is based on voluntary reporting, with numbers that have been hugely revised since the previous report.
The World Health Organization plans to organize in October the first Conference on air pollution and Health to speed up change at a global level. – Reuters