Southeast Asia is one of the regions with the poorest air quality. Photo: © Muhd Imran Ismail /

UN Health Agency: save lives by moving from fossil fuels

The UN Health Agency is calling for more action to reduce fossil fuels while the world is choking on the resulting harmful pollutants. These pollutants cause respiratory and blood-flow problems and lead to millions of preventable deaths each year. Six months have passed since the World Health Organization tightened its air quality guidelines after new evidence accumulated over the last 10-20 years had shown air pollutants to be toxic at lower levels than previously understood. A staggering 99 per cent of the global population breathes air that exceeds its air-quality limits and is often loaded with particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, enter the veins and arteries and cause disease. Areas with the poorest air can be found in eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia regions, followed by Africa.

Nitrogen dioxide originates mainly from traffic exhaust emissions or other human-generated burning of fuels and is most common in urban areas, with the highest concentrations found in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Particulate matter has many sources, such as transportation, power plants, agriculture, the burning of waste and industrial or natural sources such as desert dust. The developing world is particularly hard hit, especially in India and China.

Tanushree Ganguly, who heads a New Delhi-based think tank, called for action toward reducing emissions from industry, automobiles, biomass burning and domestic energy. “We need to prioritise clean energy access for households that need it the most and take active measures to clean up our industrial sector,” she said.

Source: AP News, 4 April 2022,


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