Air pollution: WHO says ‘situation is more dangerous than expected’

ITAHARI: SEPT. 23 – The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that air pollution is more dangerous than previously thought. It has also reduced the maximum safe levels of airborne pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide.

According to the WHO, an estimated 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year due to air pollution-related diseases. Low and middle-income countries are the most affected by air pollution as they depend on fossil fuels for economic development.

The WHO classifies air pollution as smoking and unhealthy diets. Ahead of the COP 26 summit in November, the WHO has called on its 194 member states to work to reduce emissions and work on climate change.

There’s nothing more essential for life than air. Yet because of #airpollution, the simple act of breathing contributes to 7 million deaths a year. @WHO launched new global guidelines with clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 22, 2021

In a new guideline published on Wednesday, the WHO said that the maximum amount of a particle called PM 2.5 would be halved and more than that would be harmful. Such particles are produced by combustible fuels and vehicle engines for energy production.

“Reducing the amount of existing air pollution as proposed in the updated guidelines could have prevented about 80 per cent of PM 2-related deaths,” the WHO said.

It has also reduced the acceptable level of PM 10 by 25 per cent. The guideline also lists ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide as harmful pollutants.

What diseases can Air Pollution cause?

Air pollution can cause heart disease and stroke. In children, polluted air can stop the development of the lungs and cause bad breath.

“Improving air quality can support efforts to prevent climate change, and stopping emissions can improve air quality,” the WHO said.