9 out of 10 people globally breathe toxins: WHO

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 May 2018 08:18:20



14 Indian cities among world’s 20 most polluted

AIR pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world with nine out of 10 people breathing air containing high levels of pollutants, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
It praised India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme for providing some 37 million free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections in the past two years that help promoting the use of clean household energy.

However, Delhi and Varanasi are among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2016, data released by the WHO showed.
Other Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia.

In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.
The WHO’s updated estimations reveal around 90 per cent of people worldwide breathe polluted air and an alarming death toll of seven million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.

“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalised people bear the brunt of the burden,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that over three billion people -- most of them women and children -- are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes. If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development.”

The UN body launched its latest data on air pollution levels for more than 4,000 cities in over 100 countries as well the estimated health effects from both ambient and household air pollution.

Air pollution represents the biggest environmental risk to health. Yet solutions exist and the data shows some countries have made substantial progress.WHO estimates that around seven million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.

Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.

More than 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas. Around three billion people -- more than 40 per cent of the world’s population -- still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution.

WHO has been monitoring household air pollution for more than a decade and, while the rate of access to clean fuels and technologies is increasing everywhere, improvements are not even keeping pace with population growth in many parts of the world, particularly in sub Saharan Africa.
WHO recognises that air pollution is a critical risk factor for NCDs, causing an estimated one-quarter (24 pc) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25 per cent from stroke, 43 per cent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29 per cent from lung cancer.