Air Pollution Accounts For 4.2 million Deaths Globally
Only 1 percent of the world population breathes pollution-free air, with about 4.2 million people dying annually from diseases related to ambient air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) updated its air quality database as part of the World Health Day 2022 campaign, which will focus on raising awareness on health risks related to environmental causes.
“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” said Maria Neira, Director Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO.
According to WHO, less than 1 percent of the 6000 cities that are monitoring air quality complies with the recommended thresholds. Updated WHO’s data shows that the Eastern Mediterranean region reports the highest levels of inhalable particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), while the Americas have the lowest PM10 and PM2.5 levels.
Air pollution has negative effects on health and primarily affects people who live in urban regions, according to the NOM-172-SEMARNAT-2019. Air pollution accounts for 24 percent of deaths from stroke, 43 percent deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 29 percent of deaths and disease from lung cancer, among others.
The INSP reports that air pollution is the ninth risk factor of death and disability in Mexico. The National Report on Air Quality 2019 evaluated states’ compliance with NOM-025-SSA1- 2014 which establishes particulate matter (PM) limits. The results showed that from 63 evaluated cities in the country, 35 did not comply with PM10 limits. Also, from 53 cities evaluated on PM2.5, 25 did not comply with environmental regulations. PM2.5 can impact the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and respiratory systems. The report also showed that from 46 cities, 29 did not comply with the NOM limits on NO2, which is associated with respiratory diseases that can lead to difficulty breathing and lead to hospital admission.
According to Mexico’s Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis (CAME), in Mexico it is common to find ozone in the air during March because the meteorological conditions benefit its production and accumulation. Recently, Mexico’s City authorities implemented mobility restrictions due to the high amounts of ozone reported. During the last week of Mar. 2022 and the first week of Apr. 2022, more vehicles circulated but 2019 circulation levels have not been reached yet.
To improve air quality, WHO invites governments to monitor air, implement strict vehicle emissions standards and adopt the quality measures suggested by the organization. The NOM-172-SEMARNAT-2019 makes the Mexican state responsible for monitoring air quality and informing the population of its health effects so citizens can use the information efficiently to take preventive measures.