Quantcast

Air Pollution Kills 7 Million a Year, Mostly in Poorer Countries

Health + Wellness
According to new WHO data, Cairo is one of the world's most polluted mega-cities. Gary Denham / Flickr

The latest World Health Organization (WHO) air quality report revealed that air pollution is as much a global public health threat as ever, killing seven million people every year, a number that study authors told The Guardian is distressingly close to 2016's assessment.


"There are cities and regions where improvement is happening," report author Sophie Gumy told The Guardian. "But even if things have started to move, they aren't moving quickly enough. Seven million deaths is a totally unacceptable figure. The fact that 92% [of people] are still breathing unacceptable air is the news. Pollution remains at dangerously high levels," she said.

The report, based on what the WHO claims is the most comprehensive air pollution database in the world, was released Tuesday, CNN reported. The report covers data from 108 countries and 4,300 cities.

"No doubt that air pollution represents today not only the biggest environmental risk for health, but I will clearly say that this is a major, major challenge for public health at the moment and probably one of the biggest ones we are contemplating," director of the WHO's Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Dr. Maria Neira told CNN.

The report found that air pollution from cars, factories and wood fires accounts for 43 percent of chronic lung-disease deaths, 29 percent of lung cancer deaths and 25 percent of deaths from strokes and heart attacks, The Guardian reported. More than 90 percent of those deaths were in poorer countries in Africa and Asia.

In fact, the recent report marks the first time the WHO has included comparisons to past years, revealing that the pollution gap between rich and poor countries is growing.

More than 61 percent of cities in Europe and 57 percent of cities in the Americas saw a fall in particulate matter levels between 2010 and 2016; on the other hand, air quality deteriorated by 70 percent in poorer cities in south and southeast Asia, The Guardian reported.

According to The Guardian, large cities with the worst pollution were, in order, Delhi, Cairo, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mumbai and Beijing. Delhi and Cairo had PM10 particulate matter levels 10 times worse than WHO guidelines while Dhaka, Mumbai and Beijing had levels that eclipsed safety limits by a factor of five.

The report's authors praised the progress that China had made in its "war on pollution."

"One of the reasons for that, is the health argument is strongly presented and citizens felt the link between air pollution and their own health," Neira told The Guardian. "We'd like to see the same movement now in India, which is a country of particular concern."

In the U.S., Los Angeles and Indianapolis were particularly polluted, while Honolulu was a large U.S. city with relatively clean air, CNN reported.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial view of the explosion site of a chemical factory on March 22 in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province of China. Caixin Media / VCG / Getty Images)

At least 47 people have died in an explosion at a plant in Yancheng, China Thursday run by a chemical company with a history of environmental violations, Sky News reported.

Read More Show Less
A fishmonger in Elmina, a fishing port in the Central Region of Ghana. Environmental Justice Foundation

By Daisy Brickhill

Each morning, men living in fishing communities along Ghana's coastline push off in search of the day's catch. But when the boats come back to shore, it's the women who take over.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Sam Nickerson

Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.

The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.

Read More Show Less
Krystal B / Flickr

Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.

"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Cold cereals are an easy, convenient food.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A tractor spraying a field with pesticides in Orem, Utah. Aqua Mechanical / CC BY 2.0

Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.

The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.

Read More Show Less
The ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery in Torrance, California. waltarrrr / Flickr

ExxonMobil could be the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.

The call to ban the company was submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a vote in late April, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Bernie Sanders holds his first presidential campaign rally at Brooklyn College on March 02 in Brooklyn, New York. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis. Getty Images

Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

Read More Show Less