News / Health

Millions Die Every Year From Air Pollution

A man and his dog, both wearing masks, walk along a small alley on a hazy day in Beijing, February 23, 2014.
A man and his dog, both wearing masks, walk along a small alley on a hazy day in Beijing, February 23, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization reports air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. A new report finds seven million people died from exposure to air pollution in 2012, more than double the number previously estimated in 2008.

 Air pollution is a global problem; the World Health Organization reports one in eight people around the world die from air pollution.  

It says new data show people exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution die prematurely from cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as chronic pulmonary diseases and cancer.

The World Health Organization reports most deaths from air pollution occur in low-and middle-income countries in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific, where about half the world’s population cook and heat their homes using open fires and simple stoves.  
AIR POLLUTION DEATHS

Outdoor air pollution
 40% - Ischemic heart disease
 40% - Stroke
 11% - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
 6% - Lung cancer
 3% - Acute lower respiratory infections in children

Indoor air pollution
34% - Stroke
26% - Ischemic heart disease
22% - COPD
12% - Acute lower respiratory infections in children
6% - Lung cancer

Source: WHO
Health officials say the use of coal and biomass fuels, such as wood, animal dung and crop waste is responsible for 4.2 million people dying prematurely in 2012.  They link an additional 3.7 million deaths in urban and rural areas to outdoor air pollution.

WHO Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health coordinator, Dr. Carlos Dora, said clean air cannot be bought in a bottle.  

“To resolve this issue, it is quite important that countries, nations take action, which is more or less coordinated and the reason for that is the air shared-small particles travel thousands of kilometers, normally around the hemisphere traveling east. So pollution in one country will affect a number of other countries downwind," said Dora.

Dora said air pollution used to be worse in developed than in developing countries. But he says developed countries, notably the United Kingdom, and United States have taken action, which has dramatically reduced air pollution during the past decade.

“We know those interventions work on energy especially. On transportation, better engines, cleaner fuels, more efficient energy technologies, reduction in the need for the use of energy, insulation of houses, etc. Clean energy, solar, wind, energy that does not use combustion is better than those that do use combustion," he said.

Dora said in most cases healthier air pollution strategies will be more economical in the long run because health care costs will go down.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs