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The WHO sets stricter criteria for air quality

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Asthma, lung infections, stroke αέρα Air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths each year, prompting the World Health Organization to set stricter limits on major air pollutants, such as particulate matter.

This is the first time the WHO has updated its general air quality guidelines since 2005.

"Since then, new data have shown 'where air pollution affects all parts of the body - the full-grown baby's brain in the womb, and at even lower concentrations than previously observed," he said. WHO Director-General, Tentros Antanom Gebregesous, at a press conference.

"There is nothing more essential in life than air. "And yet, because of air pollution, the mere fact of breathing causes 7 million deaths a year," mainly due to non-communicable diseases, he added.

For this reason, the WHO has reduced almost all of its reference limits - legally non-mandatory - which mainly concern so-called conventional pollutants: particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

- One of the biggest environmental threats -

"Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries, but it mainly affects the populations of low- and middle-income countries," he said. large-scale and economic growth based mainly on the use of fossil fuels.

For Dr. Hans-Henri Klüge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, "clean air should be a fundamental human right and a prerequisite for the health and productivity of societies".

With climate change, air pollution is, according to the WHO, one of the biggest environmental threats to health.

A few weeks before the important UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow, the director of the WHO Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health highlighted the link between combating climate change and air pollution.

"The WHO is preparing a very large report to be presented to COP26 underlining the importance of further action to mitigate the causes of climate change as this will have huge health consequences by reducing levels of air pollution," he told reporters.

In children, air pollution can inhibit lung development, cause respiratory infections, and worsen asthma. In adults, ischemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributed to outdoor air pollution.

- 90% of the world's population -

New data, according to the WHO, show that outdoor air pollution can also cause diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

In terms of morbidity rate, air pollution can therefore be compared, according to the WHO, with other significant health risk factors, such as malnutrition and smoking.

Nevertheless, in 2019 more than 90% of the world population lived in areas where concentrations exceeded the WHO 2005 minimum reference values ​​for prolonged exposure to fine PM2,5 particles (less than 2,5 in diameter). micrometers). The WHO also halved their minimum reference value.

In 2019, in the region of Southeast Asia and in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, the annual concentrations of PM2,5 fine particles, which were weighted according to the number of inhabitants, were the highest.

These particles can penetrate deep into the lungs (as well as PM10) but also into the bloodstream. Fine particles come mainly from the combustion of fuel in various sectors, mainly in transport, energy, industry and agriculture.

 

Source: RES-EAP

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