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Our Planet, Our Health: Billions Of People Worldwide Continue To Breathe Polluted Air

By: The Negros Times

According to new statistics released by the UN Agency on Monday, April 4th, 2022, 99 percent of the world's population breathes air that exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) air quality regulations, encouraging a world less reliant on fossil fuels.

Our Planet, Our Health: Billions Of People Worldwide Continue To Breathe Polluted Air
Our Planet, Our Health: Billions Of People Worldwide Continue To Breathe Polluted Air

Ground observations of annual mean concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a common urban pollutant and precursor of particulate matter and ozone, will be added to the WHO's air quality database in 2022, according to the WHO.

According to the World Health Organization, a record number of over 6,000 cities in 117 nations now monitor air quality, yet residents still breathe dangerous fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.

People in poor and middle-income nations are the most vulnerable.

“Current energy concerns highlight the importance of speeding up the transition to cleaner, healthier energy systems,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

High fossil fuel costs, energy security, and the urgent need to address the dual health issues of air pollution and climate change highlight the urgent need to move faster toward a society that is considerably less reliant on fossil fuels.

The findings of the new study have led the World Health Organization to stress the need of reducing fossil fuel consumption and implementing other concrete efforts to lower air pollution levels.

The new statistics was released ahead of World Health Day, which is celebrated on April 7 and this year's theme is "Our Planet, Our Health."

The new air quality database, according to the WHO, is the most comprehensive ever in terms of coverage of air pollution exposure on the ground. In comparison to the last update, 2,000 additional cities and human settlements are now recording ground monitoring data for Particulate Matter, PM10 and/or PM2.5, according to the WHO. Both pollutants are mostly caused by human activities associated with the burning of fossil fuels, according to the report.

Since the database's inception in 2011, there has been an almost sixfold increase in reporting.

According to the WHO, evidence of the harm caused by air pollution to the human body is quickly growing, and even low levels of certain air pollutants can considerably be harmful. Particulate Matter, particularly PM2.5, has the ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and into the circulation, producing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke), and respiratory effects.

New evidence suggests that Particulate Matter has an influence on other organs and causes disorders.

"NO2 is linked to respiratory disorders, particularly asthma," according to the WHO, "resulting in respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing), hospital admissions, and emergency department visits."

The World Health Organization amended its Air Quality Guidelines last year, making them more severe in order to assist countries properly assess the healthiness of their air.

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