Air pollution kills 7 million people each year, WHO calls for quick change

(Reuters): The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday (May 1) that air pollution still kills 7 million people each year, almost all of them in poor countries in Asia and Africa, and that 9 out of 10 people on the planet breathe in polluted air, following the release of its latest data on air pollution worldwide.

According to the health institution, about a quarter of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer can be attributed to air pollution.

These numbers have remained unchanged in the past years, with, globally, outdoor air pollution remaining high and largely unchanged, while indoor air pollution has got worse, as people in many poorer countries continue to cook with solid fuel or kerosene, instead of cleaner fuels such as gas and electricity. Women and children are the most at risk.

WHO’s global assessment is based on satellite data and modelling overlaid on the database of more than 4,300 cities, an almost 50% increase compared to WHO last report in 2016, and is self-selecting, because it is based on voluntary reporting, with numbers that have been hugely revised since the previous report.

The World Health Organization plans to organize in October the first Conference on air pollution and Health to speed up change at a global level.