The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that air pollution is much more hazardous than previously believed, as it continues to reduce acceptable levels of critical chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide.
According to the WHO, an estimated seven million people die prematurely each year from illnesses associated with air pollution.
Low- and middle-income nations bear the brunt of the consequences, owing to their economic development reliance on fossil fuels.
According to the WHO, air pollution is on a level with smoking and bad eating habits.
It is encouraging its 194 member nations to reduce emissions and act on climate change in the run-up to the November COP26 meeting.
It is not news to many who suffer from heart and lung disease that hazardous particles and gases can cause harm at far lower concentrations than previously believed.
The revisions to the recommendations imply that the UK’s regulatory limits for the most hazardous pollutants are now four times those recommended by the World Health Organization.
The issue is that the most serious pollution – microscopic particles that may be inhaled – is exceedingly difficult to eradicate.
Pollution is generated by car exhausts and central heating systems powered by natural gas. However, hazardous particles are discharged into the air in other ways – or are produced in the air as a result of chemical reactions with other substances.
Paints, cleaning fluids, and solvents are all particle contributors. Add to that the wear and tear on automobile tyres and brakes, and even electric cars cannot provide a perfect answer.
How many individuals are aware that agricultural slurry also emits gases that lead to urban deaths?
That is why the new guidance is so difficult for governments to implement. If you live in a city, it is exceedingly difficult to avoid pollution, no matter how hard you try.
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The revised rules, which were announced Wednesday, reduce the recommended maximum level of exposure to microscopic particles known as PM2.5s.
These are created as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels in power production, household heating, and automobile engines.
“Nearly 80% of deaths worldwide caused by PM2.5 might be prevented if current air pollution levels were decreased to those recommended in the revised guideline,” the WHO stated.
Additionally, the recommendations call out ozone, nitrogen dioxide, Sulphur dioxide, and carbon monoxide as contaminants.
Air pollution has been related to heart disease and strokes. It can impair lung development and exacerbate asthma in youngsters.
“Improving air quality can help with climate change mitigation measures, and lowering emissions improves air quality,” the WHO notes.