Energy & Environment

99 percent of people worldwide breathe air that doesn’t meet WHO standard

AP/Manish Swarup

Virtually everyone is breathing unhealthy air, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

In a statement released on Monday, the U.N. global health organization said that 99 percent of the global population breathes air that does not meet its standards.

Seven million people each year are killed by air pollution, the agency said.

In September, the WHO tightened its guidelines for certain types of air pollution, including particle pollution, as well as nitrogen dioxide, both of which are mainly caused by burning fossil fuels. 

These pollutants were assessed in the update from the agency on Monday.

Fine particle pollution has been linked to premature deaths, heart attacks and decreased lung function, while nitrogen dioxide can contribute to or worsen asthma. 

In response to its findings, the WHO called on countries to revise their own air quality standards and increase vehicle emissions and efficiency standards, among other actions. 

“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” Maria Neira, WHO director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, said in a statement. 

“Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air,” Neira added. 

Similar to Monday’s findings, an outside assessment recently found that no countries met the WHO’s fine particle pollution standards. 

Tags Air pollution Air quality Air quality index Climate change Pollution WHO World Health Organization

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