Outdoor air pollution caused the death of some 3.7 million people below 60 years old in 2012, a report of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Records from WHO’s urban air quality database showed only 12 percent of those living in cities enjoy quality air in accordance with WHO’s guidelines.
The WHO database covers 1,600 cities in 91 countries.
“Urban centers today are enveloped in dirty air that skylines are invisible,” said Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director general for family, children and women’s health.
Bustreo said this air is dangerous to breathe and a growing number of cities and communities worldwide are striving to meet the needs of their residents, particularly children and the elderly.
The database showed about half of the urban population is exposed to air pollution that is at least 2.5 times higher than the levels WHO recommends.
In most cities where there is enough data to compare the situation today with previous years, air pollution is getting worse.
“Many factors contribute to this increase, including reliance on fossil fuels such as coal-fired power plants, dependence on motor vehicles, inefficient use of energy, and the use of biomass for cooking and heating,” WHO said. It said some cities are making improvements, indicating that air quality can be improved by policies such as banning the use of coal for space heating in buildings, using renewable or clean fuels for electricity production, and improving efficiency of motor vehicle engines. via The Philippine Star