(ORDO NEWS) — You have probably heard about the negative effects of polluted air. Many believe that this problem only affects people living in industrial areas. Alas, new data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that almost everyone is at risk.
We all need air for life, but its quality today greatly affects our health.
Based on an analysis of air pollution data covering more than 6,000 cities in 117 countries, WHO claims that 99% of the world’s population is currently breathing air that does not meet safety recommendations. The new analysis covers 80% of the world’s urban areas.
With every breath, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from vehicles, construction equipment, industrial boilers, power plants and other sources penetrates deep into our lungs.
There, it can irritate the tissues of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation, allergies, and asthma, as well as reducing lung function.
NO2 also significantly increases the risk of childhood asthma. And is associated with low birth weight in newborns and with cardiovascular disease.
We also breathe in airborne fine particulate matter (PM) made up of many different substances, including natural desert dust and all sorts of pollutants from microplastics, cooking stoves, industry, agriculture, burning fossil fuels, and wildfires.
PM2.5 particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke) and respiratory diseases.
What does the new WHO report say?
Globally, today only 23% of people in 4,000 cities out of 6,000 that have been studied breathe NO2 levels that meet safety guidelines, according to the WHO. However, the highest concentrations are found in the Mediterranean.
Among the causes of pollution, WHO especially notes fossil fuels. It is believed to produce the most harmful emissions associated with both acute and chronic diseases.
In addition, the production and use of traditional fuels affects the environment, for example, it increases the number of forest fires due to climate change.
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