After updating its database on air quality, the WHO issued a report stating that 99% of the global population are inhaling air, rife with particulate matters. Information that was drawn from over 6,000 municipalities comprising villages, towns and cities located across the world showed that people are breathing-in air that exceed limits of minute particles that enter the lungs and penetrate deep into arteries and veins to cause diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries with the poorest air qualities are those in the Southeast Asian and Eastern Mediterranean regions, as well as in the African continent.
In light of the WHO report, the U.N. is calling for more action in reducing fossil fuel use. Fossil fuel being the source of pollutants that for years have been causing respiratory and blood-circulation problems, resulting to millions of preventable deaths every year.
Dr. Maria Neira, the Head of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the WHO said that after coming out of a pandemic, it’s unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths as results of air pollution. She said that instead of investing on things that would produce clean and healthy air, funds are being sunk into things that pollute the environment.
WHO Database Now Includes Significant Measures of Nitrogen Dioxide
The WHO database has for the first time, since its last version in 2018, now include gtound measurements of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), in addition to the traditional particulate matters PM 2 and PM10.
NO2 is generated by burning fuel mainly from automobile traffic in urban areas. High concentrations of which were found in the eastern Mediterranean region. Exposure to NO2 can cause difficulty in breathing, wheezing and coughing leading to respiratory diseases like asthma.
Particulate matters PM2 snd PM10, which comes from many sources such as power plants, transportation, agriculture, burned wastes and even from desert dust, are particularly high in developing countries. China has the highest levels of PM2, while high levels of PM10 are found in India.
The WHO warns that there is emerging evidence that particulate matters can affect other organs other than the the lungs because they are capable of entering the bloodstream to cause cardiovascular diseases and stroke.