Nine out of 10 people globally are breathing poor quality air, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, calling for dramatic action against pollution that is blamed for more than six million deaths a year.
New data in a report from the UN’s global health body “is enough to make all of us extremely concerned,” Maria Neira, the head of the WHO’s department of public health and environment, told reporters. The problem is most acute in cities, but air in rural areas is worse than many think, WHO experts said
Poorer countries have much dirtier air than the developed world, according to the report, but pollution “affects practically all countries in the world and all parts of society”, Neira said in a statement. “It is a public health emergency,” she said. “Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough,” she added, urging governments to cut the number of vehicles on the road, improve waste management and promote clean cooking fuel.
Today’s report was based on data collected from more than 3,000 sites across the globe. It found that “92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits”.