Are you breathing clean air? A new air pollution study suggests you might not be. It found that almost 95 percent of people in the world live in areas with higher fine particle levels than the World Health Organization‘s air quality guidelines. According to The Guardian, poor communities are taking the brunt of the burden.
The Health Effects Institute recently published the State of Global Air/2018 report. They drew upon satellite data and improved monitoring to discover that the majority of us could be breathing unhealthy air. According to the report, “An estimated 95 percent of people live in areas where ambient (outdoor) fine particulate matter concentrations (small dust or soot particles in the air) exceed the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guideline of 10 µg/m3. Almost 60 percent live in areas where fine particulate matter exceeds even the least stringent WHO interim air quality target of 35 µg/m3.”
The 2018 report also delves into household air pollution. More than one third of the world’s population is exposed to polluted air from the burning of solid fuels for heating or cooking indoors. Reportedly, “For them, fine particulate matter levels in the home can exceed the air quality guidelines by as much as 20 times.”
Air pollution has been connected to sickness and early death — just last year, exposure to polluted air played a role in over six million deaths around the world, according to experts. Half of the deaths were in India and China. And the gap between the most and least polluted countries is increasing: it’s now 11-fold compared to six-fold in 1990, Health Effects Institute vice president Bob O’Keefe told The Guardian. But, he said even though countries may have a ways to go on cleaning the air, there are reasons for hope — such as India’s focus on electrification. O’Keefe said China “seems to be now moving aggressively,” as they put stronger controls in place and work to cut coal.
You can explore the data from the State of Global Air/2018 on the report’s website.
Via The Guardian