World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


WHO Data and Warning on the Impact of Air Pollution

WHO issues new data and a warning on the health impacts of air pollution

An estimated 2.8 million deaths in the Western Pacific Region in 2012 from
heart disease, lung cancer and other illnesses linked to air pollution

MANILA, 25 March 2014 The World Health Organization warns that air pollution is taking a mounting toll on health globally with the deaths of an estimated 7 million people in 2012 linked to dangerous air. The figure reflects a strong connection between air pollution—both outdoors and in the home—and a range of illnesses, including heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

Among the six WHO regions, the Western Pacific bears a disproportionately high burden: an estimated 2.88 million (41%) of deaths globally due to indoor and outdoor air pollution occur here, although the Region accounts for approximately 25% of the world's population.

Further, a serious disparity exists between richer and poorer countries within the Western Pacific Region: the mortality rate attributable to air pollution is estimated to be 5.4 times higher in lower- and middle-income countries than in higher-income countries (172 versus 32 deaths per 100 000 persons).

When considered separately, ambient or outdoor air pollution takes a slightly higher toll than household or indoor air pollution (1.67 million versus 1.62 million deaths, respectively). Ischemic heart disease (or coronary heart disease) is the leading cause of death associated with factors stemming from air pollution, followed by stroke, chronic lung disease, lung cancer and acute lower respiratory disease.

“These new data are an urgent push for all of us, from governments to individuals, to work towards promoting and adopting even stronger measures to control air pollution in order to save lives and safeguard health,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “As we continue to strengthen the data and evidence, it is crucial that the health sector in every country collaborates ever more closely with the environment sector and engages other stakeholders as well. We must translate these data into concrete policies that are effectively implemented, to help decrease the overall health burden from air pollution.”

In 2013, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined definitively that air pollution is carcinogenic to humans, contributing significantly to the incidence of lung cancer. The latest reports provide more evidence regarding the link between exposure to air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, and non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease (including ischemic heart disease and stroke) and cancer. Addressing air pollution effectively will help in reducing the health burden from non-communicable diseases, which are a particularly significant challenge in the Western Pacific Region.

The primary sources of ambient or outdoor air pollution include industrial and motor vehicle emissions and household heating.

Among the main sources of household or indoor pollution are the burning of fossil fuels, such as solid fuels in open fire cooking stoves, as well as second-hand smoke from tobacco products.

About half of all women and children in the Western Pacific Region are exposed to second-hand smoke, which not only contributes to respiratory diseases but also to a wide range of conditions including cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific has been working closely with Member States to help strengthen their capacities to conduct health risk assessments and management to reduce air pollution. Through the Regional Forum on Environment and Health in Southeast and East Asian countries, WHO promotes collaboration between the health and environment sectors within governments and across civil society to address major environmental health challenges.

Existing good practices of air pollution control have been very effective such as: enforcement and compliance with national air and fuel quality standards and fuel emission standards; public health initiatives to improve the home environment (e.g. having adequate windows, using low emission stoves and a separate kitchen or area for cooking); and public health education that encourages adoption of healthy behaviours (e.g. use of pot lids, regular maintenance of stoves and keeping children away from smoke, including second-hand smoke). New guidelines regarding household fuel consumption are set to be released this year along with updates on air quality from more than 1600 cities worldwide.

“Many countries are finally stepping up their actions to combat air pollution,” noted Dr Nasir Hassan, Team Leader, Environmental Health, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific. “For example in China, where we have recently seen huge concern over the critical air pollution situation there, Premier Li Keqiang has declared a war on pollution. This signifies a willingness to move towards more intensive and rigorous monitoring of air pollution, and to take stronger measures to tackle the very sources of the pollution in the first place.”

“The air pollution crisis did not occur overnight, and the solutions will not occur overnight,” concluded Dr Shin. “Environmental health in general is a complex issue, as it goes hand in hand with urbanization, economic development and so many other factors. But it’s obvious this crisis—and it is a crisis—can no longer be ignored. The data and evidence are crystal clear, and effective and innovative tools are available for Member States to tackle this issue head on. WHO urges all to work together, quickly and strategically, towards a healthier environment for those of us living on our planet now, as well as those who will follow us in the generations to come.”
ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

As Health Needs Rise In Somalia, Funding Hits New Low

As health needs rise in Somalia, funding hits new low, cutting off 1.5 million from care – UN More>>

Need To End Violence Against Children In Conflict

‘We should be outraged’ more not being done to end violence against children in conflict – UNICEF chief More>>

On Mandela Day, UN Joins Call To Promote Community Service

Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa, raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/P. Sudhakaran More>>

Some $3.2 Billion Needed For Ebola Recovery Efforts

Some $3.2 billion needed for Ebola recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – UN More>>

World Day: UN Spotlights Plight Of Vulnerable Populalations

Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting near the Syrian city of Kobani wait in a holding area before boarding buses in Turkey (September 2014). Photo: UNHCR /I. Prickett More>>

Afghanisatan: Direct Talks Between Government And Taliban

The United Nations Security Council has welcomed the recently held direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban representatives as a step towards “peace and reconciliation” in the region. More>>

Eradicating World Hunger By 2030

Agriculture workers collect carrots on a farm in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann More>>

Bangladesh: Flood Leads To UN Agency Providing Food Relief

Anwar Hossain unloads cartons of High Energy Biscuits from a pickup truck and transfers them to a distribution center in Kawar Khop union, Ramu upazila, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Kamrul Mithon More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news