WHO Says Air Pollution Rising in World’s Poorest Areas

May 12, 2016 – The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that its latest urban air quality database—which now covers 3,000 cities in 103 countries—shows that over 80 percent of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that fail to meet the WHO guideline values of 20 μg/m3 for PM10, and 10 μg/m3 for PM2.5.  The organization also reported that 98 percent of cities in low- and middle-income countries and with population of over 100,000 people exceed the WHO air quality guidelines compared to 56 percent of cities in high-income countries.  WHO compared levels of PM10 and PM2.5 for 795 cities in 67 countries over the period of 2008 to 2013 to identify key trends.  The study revealed, among other things, that although some regions have experienced improvements, global urban air pollution levels increased by 8 percent.  According to Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, “Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health.  At the same time, awareness is rising and more cities are monitoring their air quality.”  WHO noted that most sources of urban outdoor air pollution are beyond the control of individuals and, instead, require action by cities, countries and international policymakers.