World Environment Day: More than 7 million die annually due to pollution – WHO
Nobody is safe from air pollution, the United Nations warned on World Environment Day, with nine out of 10 people on the planet now breathing polluted air.
This has led to a growing, global health crisis, which already causes about 7 million deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Burning fossil fuels for power, transport and industry is a major contributor to air pollution as well as the main source of planet-warming carbon emissions – and tackling both problems together could bring substantial benefits for public health.
Air pollution affects all regions of the world. However, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted. According to the latest air quality database, 97% of cities in low- and middle- income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 49%.
In the past two years, the database – now covering more than 4300 cities and settlements in 108 countries – has nearly doubled, with more and more locations measuring air pollution levels and recognizing the associated health impacts.
As air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.