A full 99 percent of people on Earth breathe air containing too many pollutants, the World Health Organization said Monday, blaming poor air quality for millions of deaths each year.
Fresh data from the UN health agency showed that every corner of the globe is dealing with air pollution, although the problem is much worse in poorer countries.
“Almost 100 percent of the global population is still breathing air that exceeds the standards recommended by the World Health Organization,” the agency’s environment, climate change and health director Maria Neira told reporters.
“This is a major public health issue.”
In its previous report four years ago, WHO had already found that over 90 percent of the global population was affected, but it has since tightened its limits, it said.
“The evidence base for the harm caused by air pollution has been growing rapidly and points to significant harm caused by even low levels of many air pollutants,” WHO said.
While UN data last year indicated that pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions caused short-lived improvements in air quality, WHO said air pollution remains a towering problem.
“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have seven million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” Neira said.