Millions of premature deaths each year due to air pollution, WHO tightens guidelines
The international body has decreased the advisable limit for the average annual level to half by PM 2.5.Author : A. Gayatri
India ranks thirds amongst Asian nations as the most polluted, showed a survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality.
India comes behind Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Publishing the updated Air Quality Guidelines on Wednesday after 16 years, in which the organisation claims that the fresh guidelines provide an estimate of the adverse effects air pollution can have on human health and limits for health–harmful pollution degrees.
In South Asia, air pollution levels are invariably high causing risk to health, these new protocols are expected to revive interest and push authorities to take stronger actions.
More than 90% of the world's population reside in places that transcend the boundaries and limits of important air pollutants fixed by WHO.
The word Health Organisation stated: “Unfortunately, for South Asia, this is approximately 100%. In the 16 years since the Guidelines were last updated, multiple scientific studies have evidenced the true harm caused by poor air quality."
In its revised air pollution standards of 2009, India has set many relaxed rules in comparison to the ones prescribed by the WHO and other Asian nations.
Not legally coercing any nations, the new set of WHO Air Quality Guidelines expects to establish a series of new air quality policies in place and therefore, help to prompt the policymakers to take steps towards addressing air pollution globally.
Air Pollution is amongst the greater environmental dangers to health and impacts the most exposed population.
According to analysis, 91% of casualties from ambient air pollution take place in low-income and middle-income nations.
Around 116,000 infant mortality occurred in India in 2019. These deaths are attributed to air pollution, coal combustion contributes to 100,000 deaths and 16.7 lakh Indians are killed by ambient air pollution.
Harvard University in its study indicated that 1 out of 5 casualties worldwide happens because of air pollution caused by fossil fuels, while altogether accounting for an enormous 8.7 million deaths in 2018 alone.
Children are particularly more susceptible, as exposure to air pollution in early childhood could steer to declining lung capacity.
Roughly, 15% of Coronavirus deaths are associated with PM2.5 air pollution across the globe.
India’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) aims at reducing 20-30 percent of PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, retaining levels from 2017 as the base year. Taking top ten cities from WHOs most populated cities list, about 122 non-attainment cities were classified for NCAP, which did not reach India’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for the year 2011-15.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suggested the NAAQS standards ensuring "protection of health" among other reasons.
As per an audit by Greenpeace India within the 100 global cities, Delhi’s annual PM2.5 bearings in 2020 was 17 times more than what the WHOs air quality guidelines set, that is 5 ug/m3, while Mumbai's was 8-fold.
Air pollution accounts for premature deaths and financial losses across 10 cities in the world, with Delhi, estimated to report the maximum number of deaths - 57,000 in 2020 and 14% of GDP decline adhering to air pollution.
Dr Aidan Farrow, a Greenpeace international air pollution scientist at Britain's University of Exeter said: "What matters most is whether governments implement impactful policies to reduce pollutant emissions, such as ending investments in coal, oil and gas and prioritizing the transition to clean energy.”
"The failure to meet the outgoing WHO guidelines must not be repeated," he said.
Meanwhile, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that air pollution harshly affects citizens in low and middle-income nations calling for a collective approach to protect the environment.
“WHO’s new Air Quality Guidelines are an evidence-based and practical tool for improving the quality of the air on which all life depends. I urge all countries and all those fighting to protect our environment to put them to use to reduce suffering and save lives,” the WHO chief said.