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80% of City Dwellers Breathing Dangerous Levels of Polluted Air, says WHO

May 13, 2016 02:59 AM EDT
Air pollution and traffic
XI AN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 25: Vehicles are stuck in a traffic jam in heavy smog after the traffic lights were broken-down on February 25, 2014 in Xi an, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China's land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report.
(Photo : ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Three million premature deaths caused by ambient air pollution occur each year because 80 percent of urban dwellers are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution.

"Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health," Maria Neira, the head of WHO's department of public health and environment, said in a statement.

The rising air pollution in urban cities is hurting millions worlwide, and it is worst in poorer countries, WHO notes. Those people effected usually succumb to death because of respiratory diseases, stroke, heart disease and lung cancer.

In UN's latest air pollution data base, the report, which looked into data gathered from 795 cities in 67 countries between 2008 and 2013 conclude that four out of five city dwellers live with dangerously intoxicating air. The data examined PM10, particulate matter measuring less than 10µm, which can include dust, pollen and mould spores; and PM2.5, particles measuring less than 2.5µm.

The report also took into account the disparity between the rich and poorer nations. With the latter being 98% affected, while just 56 percent of people in rich countries were affected by the massive air pollution

Most of the low to middle income countries breathe air that exceed WHO's safety standard.

"The highest levels of small and fine particulate pollution, known as PM10 and PM2.5 respectively, were generally found the eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia, with the average annual levels often exceeding five to 10 times the safe limits in low and middle-come states," Independent UK noted.

Dr. Carlos Dora of WHO emhasized the importance of eliminating industrial emissions to achive long-term improvement in vutting carbon emmission, as well as utilizing green transport, solar and wind power.
In a press release, he said: "when air quality improves, health costs from air pollution-related diseases shrink, worker productivity expands and life expectancy grows. Reducing air pollution also brings an added climate bonus, which can become a part of countries' commitments to the climate treaty."

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