Figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that air pollution is ‘too high’ in most of the world’s cities.
In its most comprehensive study to date, WHO collected air quality data from 1600 cities in 91 countries.
The results were conclusive, revealing that 90% of people in urban areas breathe air that is deemed unsafe. Air quality was poorest in Asia, followed by South America and Africa.
Some cities do not have the capacity to monitor their air quality, however, the data that was retrieved shows that at least half the world’s population living in urban areas are exposed to air pollution over 2.5 times higher than the recommended level.
Air pollution is proven to be one of the biggest health risks worldwide. In April 2014, WHO issued new information estimating that outdoor air pollution was responsible for the deaths of some 3.7 million people under the age of 60 in 2012.
It can foster a number of diseases including heart disease, respiratory illnesses and cancer.
WHO are urging governments to take note of the causes of air pollution and implement strategies to provide cleaner air for its people.
Dr Carlos Dora from the WHO said, “We cannot buy clean air in a bottle, but cities can adopt measures that will clean the air and save the lives of their people”.
The EU recently launched a legal case against the UK over air pollution after finding that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are “excessive” in many British cities.
The recent £500m refresh of the UK’s OLEV grant schemes demonstrates a willingness to change by the government. There is now recognition that air pollution is a serious problem and real attempts to reach a solution.
Transport is one of the main contributors to air pollution and this explains the move by many governments, including the UK, to invest in ‘greener’ modes of transport.
Companies such as Ecotricty are advocating a dual switch to electric cars and renewable energy sources; not only will this have environmental and health benefits by improving air quality, it will also offer certain economic advantages.
BBC, The World Health Organisation