Air pollution causes 7 million deaths in a year, report finds
Countries in South-East Asia most affected by deadly fumes
Saturday 29 March 2014
What do you think is the world’s largest cause of preventable deaths? Smoking? Poor diet? Blood pressure?
It is air pollution, which led to a staggering 7 million deaths in 2012, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Findings revealed it was the cause of one in eight global deaths, more than doubling previous estimates and confirming pollution as the world’s biggest environmental health risk.
Exposure to fumes both indoors and outside leads to strokes, heart disease, cancer and respiratory illnesses.
The worst toll was in low and middle-income countries in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor fumes and 2.6 million more from outdoors.
Fumes from a coal-fired power station “The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
“Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”
The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases, but also on better assessment of exposure with improved measurements and technology.
Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO’s assistant director-general for family health, said poor women and children pay the price of living in badly-ventilated homes.
“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” she added.
“Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”
A polluted London skyline during morning rush hour Causes of indoor pollution, which killed an estimated 4.3 million in 2012, include burning coal, wood and dung and WHO is introducing fuel guidelines.
The organisation is also lobbying to tackle outdoor emissions by cracking down on “unsustainable policies” in industry and transport.
Britain has failed to meet clean air targets set by the European Union, prompting legal action by the European Commission in February.
A spokesman from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said air quality had “improved significantly in recent decades” but meeting nitrogen dioxide limits near busy roads had been a challenge.
He said 21 other member states reported their emissions did not comply with the annual mean target for 2012 but it was “investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads”.
Global outdoor air pollution-caused deaths – breakdown by disease:
• 40% – ischaemic heart disease
• 40% – stroke
• 11% – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• 6% - lung cancer
• 3% – acute lower respiratory infections in children
Indoor air pollution-caused deaths – breakdown by disease:
• 34% - stroke
• 26% - ischaemic heart disease
• 22% - COPD
• 12% - acute lower respiratory infections in children
• 6% - lung cancer
Innovative shop Unpackaged is at the forefront of a consumer revolution
Vital invertebrates decline by 45 per cent, study finds
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
Cornwall hotter than California? British sea temperatures hit all-time high
Summer heatwave may encourage 'tourism' of rare butterflies and bees to the UK, experts say
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
£18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...
Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...
£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...