Over 90% of the world's population lives in areas that exceed pollution safety limits set by the World Health Organization. The alarming data come directly from a report made by WHO in collaboration with the University of Bath in the UK offering a detailed interactive air quality map of three thousand international locations, both rural and urban. Deaths associated with outdoor air pollution each year are 3 million, a number that doubles if you include the indoor air pollution.
According to WHO, in 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths are associated with outdoor and indoor poor air quality that causes noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. The report points the finger at the major sources of air pollution: the inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities but not all air pollution originates from human activity. In the study it is recalled that the air quality can also be influenced by natural causes, such as dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts, although pollution remains the major cause.
Nearly 90% of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly 2 out of 3 occurring in South-East Asia, in Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific. The country in the world that pays the highest budget in terms of human lives for the pollution, with more than 1 million deaths in 2012, isChina. India cames in second place with 621.000 deaths caused by outdoor air pollution, followed by Russia with more than 140.000. In Europe, Italy, with just over 21.000 deaths, has more victims than France (11.000), Spain (6.800) and the UK (16.000).
The WHO, however, proposes several strategies to reduce the high levels of pollution, such as a more sustainable transport system, better management of solid waste, the use of stoves and cleaner fuels for domestic use, as well as renewable energy and the reduction of industrial emissions.