Global Air Quality Crisis

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 7 million people died in 2012 due to air pollution, making it the number-one environmental risk on the planet.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Mar 26, 2014

Severe haze affecting Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2005. Southeast Asia is one of the regions hardest hit by air pollution.WIKIMEDIA, SAPERAUDAir pollution exposure is killing an unprecedented number of people around the world—more than 7 million in 2012 alone—according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) released on Tuesday (March 25). These latest numbers double previous estimates and make air pollution the world’s number-one environmental health risk. The WHO’s new data draw a stronger link between air pollution and cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and ischaemic heart disease, as well as cancer. “The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” Maria Nera, WHO’s public health and environment director told the Los Angeles Times.

The WHO linked about 4.3 million of those deaths to indoor air pollution and about 3.7 million...

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents non-communicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” Flavia Bustreo, the WHO’s assistant director-general for family, women and children’s health, told Nature.

Last year, the WHO’s cancer arm, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), officially classified air pollution as a carcinogen.

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Global Air Quality Crisis

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