Friday, 5 June 2015

Air pollution is world’s top environmental health risk : WHO

Air pollution is the world's biggest environmental health risk, causing at least one in eight deaths around the globe, the World Health Organization has said.

The assessment was reached at the first ever discussion on air pollution and its health impacts at WHO's World Health Assembly, which concluded in Geneva last week. Delegates at the assembly adopted a resolution to address the health impacts of air pollution.

The new estimation significantly increases the threat posed by air pollution and has dire health implications for countries such as India, where pollution load is high and public health infrastructure underdeveloped.

WHO had last year ranked Delhi as the most polluted among 1,600 cities across the world, worse than Beijing which had previously held the dubious tag.

WHO's assessment points to a huge surge in disease burden and deaths due to air pollution exposure. Deaths due to air pollution, which include outdoor as well as indoor pollution, have increased four-fold across the globe over the past decade, the latest data shows. While the total number of deaths due to air pollution is pegged at 8 million every year, data shows that China and India are by far the worst affected countries.

Of the 8 million deaths globally, 3.7 million are from outdoor or ambient air pollution, the data shows. Around 88% of premature deaths due to air pollution exposure occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the western Pacific and south-east Asia regions.

Latest studies by WHO and other international agencies show that apart from development of respiratory diseases, exposure to air pollution leads to severe risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease. Moreover, stronger links of air pollution and cancer have also been established in recent studies.

Of the 8 million deaths globally, 3.7 million are from outdoor or ambient air pollution, the data shows. Around 88% of premature deaths due to air pollution exposure occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the western Pacific and south-east Asia regions.

Latest studies by WHO and other international agencies show that apart from development of respiratory diseases, exposure to air pollution leads to severe risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease. Moreover, stronger links of air pollution and cancer have also been established in recent studies.