(NaturalNews) The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a report citing that air pollution was the cause for over 7 million heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer-related deaths in 2012, one-third of which were from developing Asian countries. Shockingly, the number is up significantly from just four years prior: in 2008, the number of air pollution-related deaths released by WHO were 3.2 million. Numbers take into consideration both outdoor pollution (AAP, or Ambient Air Pollution) and indoor pollution (HAP, or Household Air Pollution).
Five hundred thousand children under age 5 were part of the 2012 statistics, a number that WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children's Health, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, explains. She says that "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."
Primary causes of death from outdoor pollution was linked to traffic fumes and coal burning, while indoor pollution-related deaths stemmed typically from wood or coal stoves.
Common health conditions that resulted from both HAP and AAP included stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
Shocking air quality problems of particular concern in Asia
The fast-growing population and industrialization in Asian countries such as China and India are thought to be key factors behind poor air quality, and the reason that one-third of total 2012 deaths were from these areas. In fact, so dangerous is the pollution that China's Director General of the National Center for Climate Change, Li Junfeng, has said "pollution has reached an unbearable stage" surpassing already heightened alert levels in China. Junfeng, who strongly believes that China needs to drastically pull back on their reliance on coal, urges all children and the elderly to remain indoors and for all others to take public transportation.
Dr. Maria Neira, Director of WHO's Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health warns everyone, regardless of where they live, that air pollution should not be ignored. "The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes," Neira says. "Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe."
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