World breathing poor air: WHO

Geneva: World Health Organisation (WHO) released its latest report on air quality. According to the report, over 90 percent of World breathing poor quality air causing six million deaths in a year. UN’s global health body calls for effective action against pollution. WHO experts said in urban areas the problem is more intense but even in rural areas it is no better and worse than many think.

Poorer countries have much dirtier air than the developed world, according to the report, but pollution affects practically all countries in the world and all parts of society. “It is a public health emergency,” the report said.

WHO urged governments to reduce number of vehicles on roads, improve waste management and promote clean cooking fuel. WHO collected data for this report from 3,000 places across the world. It found over 92 percent of population living in places where air quality levels exceeding WHO prescribed limits.

The data focuses on dangerous matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, or PM2.5. It is a mixture that can include organic chemicals, dust, soot and metals. These particles can come from cars and trucks, factories, wood burning, and other activities. PM2.5 includes toxins like sulfate and black carbon, which can penetrate deep into the lungs or cardiovascular system.

Nearly 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, the WHO said. According to the report, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region including China, Malaysia and Vietnam are the hardest hit.

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