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Air pollution exposure and health impact

AROUND the globe, some three million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated.
In the Philippines alone, some 28,696 people die from an air pollution-related disease each year.
The air in the Philippines has an annual average of 27 µg/m3 of PM2.5 particles. That’s 2.7 times the WHO safe level.
Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly.
In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
Here in the country, the WHO said a child dies of air pollution-related diseases every year.
Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, industrial activities, and coal-fired power plants.
It was learned that the air in Manila has an annual average of 17 µg/m3 of PM2.5 particles. That’s 70 percent more than the WHO safe level.
In the country, the top illness caused by air pollution is Ischemic heart disease.
Nearly 90 percent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly 2 out of 3 occurring in WHO’s South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
While 94 percent are due to non-communicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.
Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections.
“Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children, and the older adults,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at the WHO.
Bustreo said that for people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.
However, not all air pollution originates from human activity.
For example, air quality can also be influenced by dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts.
A new WHO air quality model confirms that 92 percent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits.
Information is presented via interactive maps, highlighting areas within countries that exceed WHO limits.
“The new WHO model shows countries where the air pollution danger spots are, and provides a baseline for monitoring progress in combating it,” Bustreo said.
It also represents the most detailed outdoor (or ambient) air pollution-related health data, by country, ever reported by WHO.
The model is based on data derived from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3,000 locations, both rural and urban.
The global campaign led by the WHO in collaboration with the Climate & Clean Air Coalition aims to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and our planet from the effects of air pollution./PN



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