Space & Innovation

WHO: 92 Percent of the World Breathes Polluted Air

Countries with the highest death rates linked to air pollution are detailed in a World Health Organization report.

<p>Credit: ThinkStock</p>

Next time air purifiers are on sale, you might want to think about picking up a few for the whole family. According to new information released by the World Health Organization, about 92 percent of the world's population breathes polluted air.

This data comes from the most detailed analysis the WHO has ever conducted, including information from satellite measurements and over 3,000 ground monitoring stations with air transport models.

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Breathing indoor and outdoor pollutants that exceed WHO limits can contribute to lung cancer, stroke and heart disease. Around 3 million deaths annually are connected to air pollution, with southeast Asia and western Pacific countries accounting for two out of every three.

While many wealthy countries have made strides in improving air quality in recent years, this new data reveals that poorer countries are actually getting worse. Turkmenistan topped the list as having the highest death rate connected to air pollution, with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Egypt also in the top five.

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Currently, North America is doing better than than Europe in improving air quality. Europe's lag is mostly due to their dependence on diesel fuel, as well as farming that releases ammonia and methane into the air.

While China is a relatively wealthy country, it still ranked sixth on the list for number of deaths linked to air pollution. This mainly comes from industrial sources as well as smog in China's densely populated cities.

WHO's main recommendations for combatting air pollution include better waste management, sustainable transportation and using renewable energy sources wherever possible.

H/T BBC