Excessive air pollution affects 92pc of people: WHO

Associated Press . Geneva

More than nine out of 10 people worldwide live in areas with excessive air pollution, contributing to strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and other problems, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday.
The UN health agency said in a new report that 92 per cent of people live in areas where air quality exceeds WHO limits, with southeast Asia, eastern Mediterranean and western Pacific regions hardest hit.
The country-by-country figures come from new satellite data over rural areas to complement traditional ground measurements of pollution, mostly in cities, in about 3,000 places worldwide. A similar WHO report released in May that said 98 per cent of residents in large cities of low- and middle-income countries face excessively high air pollution.
WHO says one in nine deaths worldwide is linked to indoor and outdoor pollution.
Turkmenistan has the highest rate of deaths per capita due to ambient air pollution in the WHO’s classification, followed by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and China.
Tuesday’s report focuses on outdoor air pollution, which is estimated to kill about 3 million people per year based on 2012 figures, the most recent available.
‘There are two things happening. One is: rich countries are getting much better in improving the quality of the air. And two: poorer countries are getting worse. That is the overall trend,’ said Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for environmental and social determinants of health.

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