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Seven million people die yearly from contaminated air, says WHO

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3bn do not have access to clean cooking fuels, tech in homes
New data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have shown that 7million people die every year from breathing highly contaminated air.

The report said nine, out of 10 people breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants.

The updated estimations released yesterday said these deaths result from ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.

The report said the polluted air penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing several diseases.

It listed them as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.

The WHO noted that air pollution is a critical risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

According to the report, the polluted air cause an estimated one-quarter (24 per cent) 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.

The report added that ambient air pollution alone caused 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.

It noted that more than 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.

This is followed by low-and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.

The report added that around three billion people, which is more than 40 per cent of the world’s population, still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes.

This, the report added is the main source of household air pollution.

The WHO report said it has been monitoring household air pollution for more than a decade.

It disclosed that while the rate of access to clean fuels and technologies has been increasing everywhere, improvements are not even keeping pace with population growth in many parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalised people bear the brunt of the burden.

“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 WHO disclosed that it would convene the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health from 30 October 30 to November 1, 2018.

It said this was necessary to bring governments and partners together in a global effort to improve air quality and combat climate change.


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