air pollution

In 2012, around seven million people died as a result of air pollution exposure, World Health Organisation (WHO) new estimates released on Tuesday indicated.

This finding doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world?s largest single environmental health risk.
The report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency by Tarik Jasarevic of the WHO Department of Communications, in particular reveals a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer.

This is in addition to the role of air pollution in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The data is not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology.

This had enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas.

Regionally, low and middle income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, underlining that the vast majority of air pollution deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases.

The new estimates were based on the latest WHO mortality data from 2012 as well as evidence of health risks from air pollution exposures.

The new data is explained by better information about pollution exposures among the estimated 2.9 billion people living in homes using wood, coal or dung as their primary cooking fuel, as well as evidence about air pollution?s role in the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancers.
In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.
Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said, ?Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains.?

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