Almost all of the world’s population (99%) breathes polluted and unhealthy air according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is calling for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
These conclusions are the result of a combination of satellite images from around the world and data collected by thousands of cities, explained to the media Dr. Sophie Gumi, of the Department for Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization. In a report, the World Health Organization said a record number of more than 6,000 metropolitan areas in 117 countries are now monitoring air quality. This represents “About 80% of the urban population in the world todaySophie Gumi said.
Seven million preventable deaths
However, these populations still breathe dangerous levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, with populations living in low- and middle-income countries being the most exposed. “After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to continue to record seven million preventable deaths and countless avoidable health years lost due to air pollution., regrets Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization. “Much investment is still devoted to a polluted environment rather than clean and healthy air“, I noticed.
Most of the measurements mentioned in the report were made between 2010 and 2019, that is, before the Covid-19 pandemic which had an impact on transportation and many polluting economic and industrial sectors. For the WHO, the report’s findings highlight the importance of reducing fossil fuel use and adopting other concrete measures to reduce air pollution levels. “Current energy concerns highlight the importance of accelerating the transition to cleaner and healthier energy systemsDr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said in a press release.
“High fossil fuel prices, energy security, and the urgent need to address the dual health challenge of air pollution and climate change underscore the urgent need for faster progress towards a world less dependent on fossil fuels.Updated data from the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Database provide for the first time ground-based measurements of average annual concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a common urban pollutant and precursor to particulate matter and ozone.
About 4,000 sites in 74 countries collect terrestrial nitrogen dioxide data. About a quarter of the population of these places inhale average annual concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in line with World Health Organization guidelines. Nitrogen dioxide is associated with respiratory illness, particularly asthma, and leads to respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing), hospitalizations, and emergency room visits. The update also includes measurements of particles equal to or less than 10 microns (PM10) or 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in diameter. These two groups of pollutants come mainly from human activities related to the combustion of fossil fuels.
In 117 countries that monitor air quality, the World Health Organization has found that air quality in 17% of cities in high-income countries is below WHO air quality guidelines. In low- and middle-income countries, air quality in less than 1% of cities meets the limits recommended by the World Health Organization. Particulate matter is able to penetrate the lungs and bloodstream, causing disorders of the heart, blood vessels, brain, blood vessels, and the respiratory system in particular.
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