Around 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012, according to a new report by the World Health Organization.
The new estimates revealed that this amounts to one in eight of the total global deaths for 2012. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.
In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and heart diseases and cancer, in addition to the role of air pollution in the development of lung diseases.
The new estimates are based upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants. Improved measurements and technology has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural and urban areas.
Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children’s Health, said: “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. Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”
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