Air pollution is even more dangerous than previously thought, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
An estimated seven million people die prematurely each year from diseases linked to air pollution, the WHO stated revealing that low- and middle-income countries suffer the most, because of their reliance on fossil fuels for economic development.
According to the WHO, air pollution is as dangerous as smoking and unhealthy eating.
The WHO in its address to its 194 member states at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday September 22, urged members to cut emissions and take action on climate change, ahead of the COP26 summit in November.
According to the WHO, the worst pollution – tiny particles which can be breathed into the lungs – is so hard to stop.
Revealing that pollution comes from vehicle exhausts and gas central heating, paints, cleaning fluids, and solvents, car tyres wearing on the road, or brakes, the WHO released new guidelines on Wednesday, meant to halve the recommended maximum for exposure to tiny particles called PM2.5s.
“Almost 80% of deaths related to PM2.5 could be avoided in the world if the current air pollution levels were reduced to those proposed in the updated guideline,” the WHO said.
“Improving air quality can enhance climate change mitigation efforts, while reducing emissions will in turn improve air quality,” the WHO says.
Air pollution is linked to conditions such as heart disease and strokes. In children, it can reduce lung growth and cause aggravated asthma.