Its official, air pollution is the world’s largest single environmental health risk
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk, causing 7 million premature deaths each year worldwide: 3.7 million from outdoor air pollution and 4.3 million from household air pollution. In the case of outdoor air pollution the new figure is a revision of the WHO’s last estimate of 1.3 million deaths in 2008, almost tripling the number of attributable deaths. New evidence on the health impacts of air pollution and improved methodologies have led to a more thorough assessment of the situation.
The WHO estimates that 80% of deaths from outdoor air pollution are due to heart diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, 14% due to respiratory diseases and infections and 6% due to lung cancer. Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health stated that “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.”
In line with what we think at the Healthy Air Campaign, the WHO recognises that “most sources of outdoor air pollution are well beyond the control of individuals and demand action by cities, as well as national and international policymakers in sector like transport, energy waste management, buildings and agriculture.”
This all comes just after a month after the European Commission launched their legal action against the UK Government for failing to protect its citizens from harmful levels of air pollution, which is in addition to ClientEarth’s own legal challenge to protect our right to clean air. With the evidence stacking up on the urgent need for our Government to get to grips with our disastrous air quality, it’s even more crucial to add your voice and let them know we deserve better.