Air pollution scourge underestimated

Air pollution is an underestimated scourge that kills far more people than AIDS and malaria and a shift to cleaner energy could easily halve the toll by 2030, according to United Nations officials.

A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution.

“The problem has been underestimated in the past,” Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of public health and environment, told Reuters. “More than 6 million deaths every year are caused by air pollution,” she said. “The horrible thing is that this will be growing because of rising use of fossil fuels.”

“If we increase access to clean energy ... the health benefits will be enormous.”, she said.

Source: Reuters, 10 April 2013.

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