Air Pollution Takes About 8 Million Lives Annually, According To WHO

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Nine out of ten people in the world breathe polluted air, causing 7 million deaths annually from air pollution directly related causes plus 1 million deaths caused by outdoor and indoor air pollution, combined, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

“The most dramatic thing is that the numbers have stabilized. Despite the progress made and the efforts underway, the vast majority of the world’s population, 92%, still breathe polluted air at levels that are very dangerous to their health,” said the WHO Director of Public Health and Environment Maria Neira in a teleconference. “Environmental pollution is the greatest challenge to global public health,” she added.

Heart diseases, strokes, airway obstruction, and lung cancer are all caused by environmental pollution

According to the organization’s research, pollution levels have remained stable over the past six years, with small improvements in Europe, South America, and North America.

According to the UN health agency, fine particulate pollution penetrates deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing life-threatening diseases such as stroke, heart attack, lung obstruction, and respiratory infections, including pneumonia, which is a leading cause of death for children under 5.

WHO considers pollution to be an essential risk factor for many non-transmissible diseases, and is directly related to 29% of deaths from lung cancer, 24% of deaths from heart disease, 43% of deaths from airway obstruction, and 25% of deaths from strokes.

7 million people die due to air pollution, while an additional 1 million people die due to outdoor and indoor air pollution, combined

In total, WHO estimates that 7 million people die annually from causes directly related to outdoor air pollution. In total, the environmental pollution killed 4.2 million people in 2016, while indoor air pollution was directly related to 3.8 million.

Thus, the air pollution deaths toll would be 8 million but the WHO estimates that 1 million deaths were due to inhalation of contaminated air both inside the home and outdoors. Indoor pollution is essentially due to the use of unhealthy materials and combustibles fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating.


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