In September the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new report detailing the state of global air quality and its impact on human health. In it, WHO officials pointed out that 92% of people worldwide are breathing polluted air.
According to WHO Assistant Director General Dr. Flavia Bustreo, “Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations—women, children and the older adults. For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.”
The report states that outdoor air pollution affects all regions of the world and is responsible for roughly 3 million deaths every year. In addition to an increased risk of acute respiratory infection, COPD, and lung cancer, exposure to air pollution has also been linked to heart disease and stroke.
While they stress the need for continuing study, WHO officials believe immediate action is needed to improve air quality on a global level. The organization recently launched its BreatheLife campaign, aimed at increasing public awareness about the importance of clean air for a healthy future. BreatheLife promotes clean-air initiatives such as sustainable transport, clean energy, and waste management.