Report Finds More Than 95 Percent Of World's Population Breathing Unhealthy Air

Report Finds More Than 95 Percent Of World's Population Breathing Unhealthy Air

Cities are home to an increasing majority of the world's people, exposing billions to unsafe air, particularly in developing countries, but in rural areas the risk of indoor air pollution is often caused by burning solid fuels.

"Nowhere is that risk more evident than in the developing world", Greenbaum noted, "where a third of the world's population faces a double burden of indoor and outdoor air pollution". It found that nearly 95 percent of people in the world live in areas with higher fine particle levels than the World Health Organization's air quality guidelines.

However, while the figures for air pollution are high, the study has found that the number of deaths attributed to risky air has significantly decreased globally since the 1990s.

A study carried out by the Health Effects Institute found that this contributed to the deaths more than six million people around the world past year.

Researchers found that air pollution is the top environmental cause of death globally, and ranks fourth overall among risk factors -behind high blood pressure, smoking, and dietary choices. This combined exposure led to one in four air pollution deaths in India, and almost one in five in China, the report found.

Vice president of the institute, Bob O'Keefe, said the gap between the most polluted air on the planet and the least polluted was striking. While developed countries have made moves to clean up, many developing countries have fallen further behind while seeking economic growth.

But he added: "There are reasons for optimism, though there is a long way to go". In 2016, a total of 2.5 billion people - one in three of global citizens - were exposed to air pollution from solid fuels such as wood or charcoal. O'Keefe said China "seems to be now moving aggressively", as they put stronger controls in place and work to cut coal. "India has really begun to step up on indoor air pollution through the provision of LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] as a cooking fuel, and through electrification".

Emissions from transport are a growing concern, however, as road traffic increases.

"Social media has been very important, as a growing number of people have access to it and to data and discussions [on air pollution]". "People now have the ability to worry about not just the food they eat and a roof over the head, but they have the means to discuss [issues] in public".