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9 Out Of 10 People Worldwide Breathe Polluted Air- WHO

Nine of the ten people around the world breathe in high level air pollution. Apart from this, around 70 lakh deaths are occurring every year from the environment and domestic air pollution and this decline has been mapped by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent report. According to the WHO report, today air pollution has become the subject of discussion. It has been identified as an important risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in adults.

Dr. K. K. Agarwal, Chairman of Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) said, “world has been experiencing high air pollution levels these past days. The air quality is particularly poor, when pollution is extremely high. While this can be fatal for those with existing health issues such as asthma or cardiovascular ailments, it can also be detrimental to healthy individuals. Elderly people and children also form the high-risk category. As per a recent study, those living in the NCR are losing out on almost 6 years of life because of the dangerous air pollution levels. If WHO standards were met in NCR, people would live 9 years longer. The IMA will be writing to the Hon’ble Delhi Chief Minister, Chief Justice Delhi High Court and the Chairperson, National Green Tribunal regarding urgent cancellation/postponing of the half marathon scheduled this month until there is significant improvement in the air quality.”

It is important to understand that the government alone can not take responsibility for preventing and controlling pollution. Every one of us can do something every day to help control the level of air pollution and keep the environment good.

WHO estimates that around 7 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.

According to WHO report, 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.

WHO recognizes that air pollution is a critical risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), causing an estimated one-quarter (24%) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29% from lung cancer.

It is sad to say that this air pollution is just not hurting you outdoors, it is also affecting you at your home and the workplace/office. Keeping the same in mind, buying air purifiers for homes and offices/workplaces is on top of most people’s to-do list. The hope is that they will get to breath quality air at least inside their homes or workplaces.

More than 4300 cities in 108 countries are now included in WHO’s ambient air quality database, making this the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution. Since 2016, more than 1000 additional cities have been added to WHO’s database which shows that more countries are measuring and taking action to reduce air pollution than ever before.

Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than 5 times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health, at WHO.

While the latest data show ambient air pollution levels are still dangerously high in most parts of the world, they also show some positive progress. Countries are taking measures to tackle and reduce air pollution from particulate matter. For example, in just two years, India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free.WHO maintains a database on the technologies and fuels used for major household energy (e.g. cooking, heating, lighting) from over 1100 nationally-representative surveys and censuses. This data is regularly updated and used to inform monitoring efforts of household energy access and its health impacts.

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