Air quality in world’s cities deteriorating: WHO

WHO claimed that quality of air in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor (ambient) air pollution failed to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels.

Created On: May 8, 2014 17:43 ISTModified On: May 8, 2014 17:47 IST

WHO (World Health Organization) release on 7 May 2014 stated that the quality of air in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor (ambient) air pollution failed to meet the WHO guidelines for safe levels. The report 2014 version of the Ambient Air Pollution database also said that this deterioration had put people at additional risk of respiratory disease and other health problems.

In its study, WHOs urban air quality database covered 1600 cities across 91 countries, which are 500 more cities which were studied in previous database 2011. This increase in the number of cities reveals a fact that more cities worldwide are monitoring outdoor air quality, reflecting growing recognition of air pollution’s health risks.

In its findings, WHO discovered that about half of the urban population being monitored is exposed to air pollution at about 2.5 times higher than the levels recommended by WHO. Hence these people are at an additional risk of serious, long-term health problems.
Certain factors that contribute to increase the air pollution
•    Reliance on fossil fuels such as coal fired power plants
•    Dependence on private transport motor vehicles
•    Inefficient use of energy in buildings
•    Use of biomass for cooking and heating

In its findings WHO also noted that there are certain cities that have recorded notable improvements by implementing policy measures such as
•    Banning the use of coal for “space heating” in buildings
•    Using renewable or “clean” fuels for electricity production
•    Improving efficiency of motor vehicle engines

Health risks caused by air pollution
WHOs latest available data has called in certain awareness against health risks caused by air pollution, implementation of effective air pollution mitigation policies and close monitoring of the situation in cities worldwide.

In its new information released in April 2014, it estimated that the outdoor air pollution was responsible for the deaths of some 3.7 million people under the age of 60 in 2012.

Report conclusion in context of India

In terms of India, the release counted Delhi among one of the most polluted city in the world in terms of air quality. It termed that the national capital has the highest concentration of particulate matters less than 2.5 microns, which is considered most serious.

This form of concentration consists of tiny particles that put people at additional risk of respiratory diseases and other health problems.

About the study
The study was a compilation of certain primary sources like official national/sub-national reports, national/ sub-national web sites containing measurements of PM10 or PM2.5, and relevant national agencies. The measurement was based on the reports of regional networks like
•    The Asian Clean Air Initiative for Asia
•    Airbase for Europe

In the absence of data from the previous sources, data from some other organisations were compiled like  
•    UN agencies
•    Development agencies
•    Articles from peer reviewed journals were used

WHO regions
Africa Region

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Eastern Mediterranean Region
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Occupied Palestinian territory, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

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