Air pollution kills 7 mn worldwide annually: WHO

25 Mar 2014

A new report by the World Health Organization published today, says air pollution killed around 7 million people worldwide every year. The report added, that fumes from indoor stoves accounted for half the fatalities.

Air pollutionAccording to WHO, air pollution was the cause of about one in eight deaths and had now emerged as the single biggest environmental health risk.

AP quoted Frank Kelly director of the environmental research group at King's College London, who was not part of the WHO report said all people needed to breathe which made pollution hard to avoid.

One of the main risks of pollution was that tiny particles could reach deep into the lungs, causing irritation. Air pollution might also be the cause of inflammation in the heart, leading to chronic problems or a heart attack.

According to WHO estimates around 4.3 million deaths in 2012 were caused by indoor air pollution, mostly people cooking inside using wood and coal stoves in Asia.

WHO added, outdoor air pollution was responsible for about 3.7 million deaths in 2012, of which nearly 90 per cent were in developing countries.

It further noted that many people were exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution and due to the overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources could not be simply added together.  It said it therefore lowered the total estimate from around 8 million to 7 million deaths in 2012.

According to WHO public health chief Maria Neira, the risks from air pollution were now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes, The Hindu reported.

It said the situation was worst in developing and emerging countries in Southern Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia, where a total of 3.3 million deaths were linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million to outdoor pollution.

The biggest indoor polluter was the use of wood, coal or dung for cooking.

In the industrialised countries of Europe, air pollution was responsible for 279,000 deaths.

The agency, has blamed unsustainable policies in the transport, energy and waste sectors, as well also in industry for poor air quality outside.

The UN health body added that cleaning up the air would reduce risks, especially for vulnerable children and the elderly, the UN health body said.

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