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WHO: 92% of the global population is breathing polluted air

Air pollution

(NaturalNews) The World Health Organization has released a new report that indicates that some 92 percent of the world's population is living in an area where air pollution exceeds the WHO's limits. This means that the majority of people reside in a place where just breathing the air can make you sick and increase your risk of developing diseases like lung cancer and heart disease.

BBC News reports: "[The WHO] said its latest data represented the most detailed study it has ever released. The analysis combined satellite measurements and more than 3,000 monitoring stations on the ground with air transport models."

According to the report, the Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions account for two-thirds of such deaths, with poorer nations increasingly bearing the burden of pollution-related illness and death. Outdoor air pollution is said to be attributed to approximately 3 million deaths annually worldwide. However, if indoor air pollution is considered, up to 90 percent of global deaths can be connected to poor air quality.

The WHO's country-by-country data revealed that Turkmenistan currently has the highest death rate associated with air pollution, though countries such as Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Uzbekistan are not far behind, and make the top five for pollution. Dr. Carlos Dora from the WHO told the Associated Press: "Rich countries are getting much better in improving the quality of the air. Poorer countries are getting worse. That is the overall trend."

Of course, three out of the top five countries with the highest air pollution are also among the top 15 most corrupt nations in the world. None of these countries score very well on the corruption index; all of them are in the bottom half. The fact that their poor citizens are suffering tremendously seems relatively unsurprising when put into context. While the economic situation of a country certainly plays a primary role in pollution, corruption is also seriously problematic. A government that does not care about its people is not going to be inclined to help them, now are they?

Because Europe relies heavily on diesel fuel, North America has actually managed to out-do them in terms of air cleanliness. Europe also tends to use farming practices that create more ammonia and methane.

You may be wondering where China fell on this new report; the nation is renowned for their smog-filled cities, after all. China was found to have the sixth highest death rate related to air pollution, which is only surprising because they aren't in the top five. Despite China's wealth, their high amount of industrial activity has lead to mass pollution in the country. It's worth noting that the country is only just a few spots above Egypt on Transparency International's corruption index.

Air pollution has been an ongoing problem in China. Earlier this year, it was estimated that roughly 1.5 million people in China alone succumb to the effects of air pollution each year. Of course, dirty air does not just hurt people on the other side of the world; it affects everyone. For example, some estimates indicate that more than half of Americans breathe in enough polluted air to cause health problems.

The WHO is calling for global efforts to reduce pollution, and has pointed to more sustainable transportation, more efficient waste management and renewable energies as possible ways to help eliminate air pollution. Will their analysis and suggestions somehow spark countries with a history of pollution into action? Who knows.





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