Air Pollution Worsening at an “Alarming Rate”
Over half of the global population live in cities, which means that billions of people around the world are now exposed to dangerous levels of air quality, according to data collected from over 3,000 cities by the World Health Organization (WHO). While cities across the globe are becoming increasingly polluted, WHO’s data indicates that those in the Middle East, south-east Asia and the western Pacific are the most impacted. Pollution levels in cities in those areas are 5-10 times above recommended levels.
While China gets the worst rap, India actually tops the list of offenders with India with 16 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities. China, which has taken measures for the past 5 years to improve its air quality, only has 5 cities in the top 30. The air in the most polluted city in the world, Onitsha (in south-eastern Nigeria), is 30 times more toxic than WHO recommended levels.
“We have a public health emergency in many countries. Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health. It’s dramatic, one of the biggest problems we are facing globally, with terrible future costs to society,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of public health at the WHO in Geneva. “The cost for countries is enormous. Air pollution affects economies and people’s quality of life. It leads to major chronic diseases and to people ultimately dying.”
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