World Health Organization has released the new WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs). WHO generally releases minor updates from time to time. The report revealed how badly air pollution affected humans massively. The newest air pollution data proved the higher risk by surpassing the predicted values of WHO analytics. According to them, WHO recommends new air quality levels with immediate effect. They think reducing levels of key air pollutants can protect the health of populations somewhat. It will also help to control climate-changing matters.
WHO released the last major global update about air pollution in 2005. Since then, air pollution has been affected different aspects of health with a marked increase. After a full systematic review of the accumulated evidence, the officials decided to downward the AQGs levels. And they strongly warn exceeding the new air quality guideline levels may occur to health risks. They are requesting to save millions of lives from air pollution disasters by sticking to the guidelines.
Every year, exposure to air pollution causes more than 7 million premature deaths. At the same time, millions more outcome from various health issues. Air pollution damages can cause reduced lung growth and function of children. Also, it drives into respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are major health issues of air pollution. They are the most common causes of premature deaths of adults. Many evidence points air pollution damages can also cause diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions.
Air pollution is one of the vast threats to humans. Unfortunately, many people do not consider it as much. Scientists show that air pollution same as tobacco smoking and unhealthy diets. Both are substantial global health risks we are facing right now. Air pollution could become the road for more disasters too.
As never before, climate change keeps happening alongside air pollution. We have to find quick solutions to those issues. Otherwise, people will suffer from those changes ahead. Improving air quality is the best solution. It will help to enhance climate change mitigation efforts. By reducing emissions can assist in improving the air quality. Countries need to stick to these guidelines to achieve results. But only if they want to protect health as well as mitigate global climate change.
WHO recommends new air quality levels against air pollution. There are six primary air pollutants. The reports suggest the majority of health effects from exposure. It’s called classical pollutants when taking action on them. Particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), sulfur dioxide (SO₂), and ozone (O₃) are classical pollutants.
Some of the classical pollutants have an impact on other damaging things that cause the disaster. Different types of particulate matter are PM₂.₅ and PM₁₀. They can penetrate deep into the lungs. And PM₂.₅ is capable of entering the bloodstream. It can primarily cause cardiovascular and respiratory impacts. The serious matter is, there’s a chance of affecting air pollution diseases to other organs too.
Primarily, fuel combustion generates PM. It spread in more than one sector. Energy, households, transport, agriculture, and industry are the main sectors that damage air quality. In 2013, IARC classified outdoor air pollution and particulate matter as carcinogenic.
The guidelines show good practices for almost all single particulate matter. Although, there is insufficient evidence for certain types of PM to set air quality guideline levels. It includes ultrafine particles, black carbon/elemental carbon, particles originating from sand and dust storms. As a global, they are slightly applicable to outdoor & indoor environments.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has spoken about the disaster. Air pollution has been affecting all the countries for quite some time. But it hits people harder in low- & middle-income countries than others. The new AQGs are an evidence-based and practical tool. It can use to improve the air quality. It was the essence of his speech. At last, he urged all to protect our environment, reduce suffering and save lives.
There are many reasons behind growing levels of air pollution in low- & middle- income countries day by day. The main problem is the reliance on fossil fuels heavily. Alongside large-scale urbanization, it’s hard to contain good air quality.
“Millions of lives lost due to the disaster. Many of them are dying from non-communicable diseases. Still, people continue to die prematurely despite some improvements in air quality lately. The most vulnerable and marginalized populations are often getting affected throughout the whole time,” said WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge.
Dr. Hans added that they know the magnitude of the problem. And they know exactly how to solve it with suitable solutions. “These updated guidelines will help policymakers’ decisions. It’s a piece of solid evidence with the necessary tool. They can tackle this long-term burden.” He suggests clean air should be a fundamental human right.
However, global assessments of ambient air pollution alone suggest the worst things. It shows hundreds of millions of healthy life years of life lost. Alongside massive attributable disease burden seen in countries. The more exposed to air pollution they are, the greater will impact on health. Out of them, people who suffer chronic conditions are risky. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and heart disease are some of those. Especially, older people, children, and pregnant women need to be very careful around the polluted air.
In 2019, scientists conducted a study about the living areas of the global population. More than 90% lived where concentrations exceeded 2005 AQGs exposure to PM₂.₅.
Despite all of those issues, few countries started to react to the disaster in high. They are carrying enough policy-driven improvements in air quality. Overall, they managed to reduce air pollution successfully.
The ultimate goal of the guidelines is to achieve recommended air quality levels. Not for two or three countries but all countries in the world. Conscious that this will be a difficult task for struggling countries with high air quality levels. For them, WHO has proposed interim goals to achieve stepwise.
If countries follow those guidelines correctly, we will be able to breathe clean air. The one thing we should not forget is each and everyone depends on this.