AsianScientist (Oct. 3, 2016) – 92 percent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) air quality model, presented in interactive maps.
Some three million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution, but indoor air pollution can be just as deadly—in 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths, or 11.6 percent of all global deaths, were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
“The new WHO model shows countries where the air pollution danger spots are, and provides a baseline for monitoring progress in combating it,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at WHO.
According to the model, nearly 90 percent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly two out of three occurring in WHO’s Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions. Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities. However, not all air pollution originates from human activity; air quality can also be influenced by dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts, for example.
The data used in the model was derived from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3,000 locations, both rural and urban. National air pollution exposures were analyzed against population and air pollution levels at a grid resolution of about 10 km x 10 km.
“Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations—women, children and the older adults,” added Bustreo. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.”
Source: World Health Organization.
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