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Smoky Cooking Kills Millions

Businesses sell cans of charcoal for cooking at a market near Kisumu, Kenya, March 11, 2015. (Photo by Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank)

Businesses sell cans of charcoal for cooking at a market near Kisumu, Kenya, March 11, 2015. (Photo by Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank)

By Sunny Lewis

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 3, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Cooking with charcoal indoors is fatal to millions of people every year, according to new data released Wednesday by the World Health Organization. WHO says, in total, household and outdoor air pollution result in “an alarming death toll” of eight million people a year.

Cooking with polluting fuels and technologies, the main source of household air pollution, caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in 2016, while outdoor air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths that same year, WHO’s new database shows.

WHO says these deaths are due to exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, and this fine particulate matter is a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases.

The agency estimates exposure to polluted air causes 24 percent of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25 percent from stroke, 43 percent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29 percent from lung cancer.

Major sources of particulates in the air include the inefficient use of energy by households, industry, the agriculture and transport sectors, and coal-fired power plants.

In some regions, sand and desert dust, waste burning and deforestation are additional sources of air pollution. Air quality can also be influenced by natural elements such as geographic, meteorological and seasonal factors.

More than 90 percent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by the low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, took office in July 2017. (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, took office in July 2017. (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than five times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” warns Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health.

The new data that WHO is presenting is now the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution.

And more cities are responding to the need to save lives by limiting emissions – at least they’re monitoring air quality. Dr. Neira says WHO is seeing “an acceleration of political interest in this global public health challenge.”

More than 4,300 cities in 108 countries are now included in WHO’s ambient air quality database together with the summary of results, methodology used for compiling the data and WHO country groupings is online at: WHO databases 

Since 2016, more than 1,000 additional cities have been added to WHO’s database, which shows that more countries than ever before are measuring and taking action to reduce air pollution.

“The increase in cities recording air pollution data reflects a commitment to air quality assessment and monitoring,” said Dr. Neira. “Most of this increase has occurred in high-income countries, but we hope to see a similar scale-up of monitoring efforts worldwide.”

The database collects annual mean concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). PM2.5 includes pollutants, such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which pose the greatest risks to human health.

The concentration of an air pollutant is given in micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter of air or µg/m3.

WHO air quality recommendations call for countries to reduce their air pollution to annual mean values of 20 μg/m3 (for PM10) and 10 μg/m3 (for PM25).

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California Berkeley students have made a new wood/biomass burning cookstove for internally displaced people in Darfur, Sudan. Manufactured locally by artisan metalworkers, it saves enough fuel so that the purchase price is affordable.

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California Berkeley students have made a new wood/biomass burning cookstove for internally displaced people in Darfur, Sudan.
Manufactured locally by artisan metalworkers, it saves enough fuel so that the purchase price is affordable.

“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden,” says WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian public health expert.

“It is unacceptable that over three billion people, most of them women and children, are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes,” he said.

“If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development,” he warned.

WHO has been monitoring household air pollution for more than a decade and,

while the rate of access to clean fuels and technologies is increasing everywhere, around three billion people – more than 40 percent of the world’s population – still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes.

Improvements are not even keeping pace with population growth in many parts of the world, particularly in subSaharan Africa, WHO reports.

Because air pollution does not recognize borders, WHO says coordinated intergovernmental partnerships will be most effective in improving air quality. Countries need to work together on solutions for sustainable transport, more efficient and renewable energy production and use and waste management.

WHO works with many sectors – transport and energy, urban planning and rural development – to support countries in addressing their air quality problems.

“Political leaders at all levels of government, including city mayors, are now starting to pay attention and take action,” says Dr. Tedros. “The good news is that we are seeing more and more governments increasing commitments to monitor and reduce air pollution as well as more global action from the health sector and other sectors like transport, housing and energy.”

This year WHO will convene the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health to bring governments and partners together in a global effort to improve air quality and combat climate change. The conference is planned for October 30 – November 1 at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Remote participation will be facilitated by webcasting and live-streaming of the sessions.

Featured Image: Dinner is cooked on a three stone cook stove in Kisumu, Kenya. The EnDev Kenya Country Programme is helping to replace these older charcoal stoves with cleaner, less smoky wood-burning stoves. As of December 2015, 87,000 households had switched to the cleaner burning jiko kisasa (firewood stove). Nov. 16, 2016 (Photo by Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank)


Which U.S. States Care About The Planet?

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Houston, Texas January 12, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) Energy companies, around the globe are paying attend to environmental issues, as much as countries, states and cities are showing a renewed interest in green energy.

Amigo Energy a electric company from Texas recently ran an analysis of Google Trends data and state statistics related to the planet and environmental issues.

Below are the results of their compiled research as written by Mike Strayer, Amigo Energy blog writer.

Recycling and Reusing

How to recycle in Washington, as it turns out, is rather easy. 87 percent of Washingtonians have access to curbside recycling, while the remaining 13 percent of the population has access to 109 drop-off locations throughout the state. In Texas, how to reuse waste seems to be on everyone’s mind. The City of Irving’s Green Seam Project—which takes scraps of fabric and turns them into reusable bags—is a real-world example of just how scrappy one Texas town is.

Renewable Energy

Home to the wind-swept Badlands, wind power is on the rise in North Dakota. Combine that with a higher concentration of Internet searches in the region and it looks like fracking has a cleaner rival poised to power more Roughrider State homes and businesses.

While you may have guessed that sunny places like Hawaii would rank high for solar power, Leesburg, Virginia probably didn’t come to mind. It’s strange, but community efforts like Solarize NOVA (Northern Virginia) may account for Leesburg’s ranking.

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Energy Efficiency

Solar power is hot in California. According to data from 2015, California generated the most solar energy in the US, which might help explain why so many Californians are curious about installing residential solar panels.

We all know that Virginia is for lovers, but did you know that Virginians love to save energy? Maybe that’s because saving energy has boosted business—energy efficiency in Virginia is a $1.5B industry that employs over 75,000 people.

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Air Quality

Utah is famous for its national parks and powdery mountains. Counterintuitively, the region also has the worst air quality in the US, which probably accounts for tons of Utahns searching for information on air quality.

It’s no secret: traffic in California can really suck. Luckily, carpooling is more convenient than ever with programs like 511 SF Bay that make commutes easier by connecting residents via cutting-edge technology.

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Sustainability

Because Google Trends calculates the relative popularity of keywords, tiny towns like Drexel often rank higher than big cities. Perhaps the city’s number one ranking is due to the Western Piedmont Community College Program in Sustainable Agriculture, which features a 40-acre student-run farm.

Colorado may be known for a different sort of “green,” but Coloradans also search more for “sustainable living” than any other state. This might be because of the Sustainable Living Association based out of Fort Collins, which specializes in educating people about sustainable choices.

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Planting and Composting

Those who know Portland may not be surprised by the city’s ranking. You could probably even say that gardening is a town pastime—the city maintains nine community garden sites with plots costing only $15-50 a year to lease. Aside from preserving pristine beaches and forests, Oregonians are interested in greening their homes, too. That may be because the state runs its own environmentally-friendly programs like this super useful composting resource page.

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If Internet searches are any indicator, it looks like Americans are becoming more and more interested in greening our country. For more information on how to go green in Texas, check out the Amigo Energy Blog—we’ve got helpful resources and interesting information that can help you green your life today.


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Sustainability Takes Flight

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Airplanes on the tarmac at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, June 30, 2016 (Photo by Caribb) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, August 16, 2016 (Maximpact.com) – Every day around the world, more than 100,000 civil aviation flights take off and land – safely for the most part. Now, the global agency responsible for overseeing civil aviation is working to improve the industry’s sustainability.

Sustainability for Civilian Aircraft,” an environmental report released in late July by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), presents the work of more than 600 experts who deal with noise, air quality, climate change, aircraft end-of-life, recycling and climate change adaptation.

This report from ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection, titled “On Board a Sustainable Future,” summarizes the progress made over the last three years across key areas of the agency’s environmental protection activities and serves as the reference document for international aviation and the environment.

The ICAO Environmental report is a crucial step that allows aviation to produce policies that lead to peaking emissions in the industry. This report allows for informed policy decisions based on sound science,” said Christina Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The report will provide a strong focus on sustainability as ICAO hosts its 191 member states and industry groups at the ICAO Assembly September 27 to October 7 in Montreal.

ICAO gathers its members in an Assembly at least once every three years. The scenarios presented for the consideration of the Assembly reflect the inputs of: aircraft and engine manufacturers, airlines, air navigation service providers and non-governmental organizations. Panels of independent experts provide unbiased input related to noise, emissions, and operational changes. The effects of traffic growth, fleet turnover, technology improvement, and operational enhancements are captured.

Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu of Nigeria, president of the ICAO Council, wrote in his introduction to the report that three years ago the ICAO Assembly, “…reaffirmed the collective aspirational goals of two percent fuel efficiency improvement annually, and carbon neutral growth from 2020.

To progress towards these goals, ICAO is advising member states to employ innovative aircraft technologies, more efficient operations, sustainable alternative fuels, and market-based measures for mitigation of climate changing emissions from the air transport industry.

ICAO’s own market-based measure is still a work in progress.

Meanwhile, wrote Aliu, “ICAO’s leadership role on the environment relies in part on our historic ability to guide and assist those who wish to act to protect the environment, but who may not have the means to do so. In the spirit of our ongoing No Country Left Behind initiative, we will continue to pursue capacity-building and assistance measures towards the more effective implementation of ICAO’s global Standards and Policies, a critical enabler of our broader environmental goals.” 

ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu of China wrote in her introduction, “Delivering on an ambitious environmental agenda in response to the mandate received from its Member States, ICAO has evolved its environmental activities into a broader, truly global vision for greener air transport. Sustainable development is at the heart of our strategy…

Turning this vision into action,” wrote Dr. Liu, “ICAO’s current Strategic Objectives contribute to 13 out of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), and our environmental work programme alone contributes to 10 of them. Adopted by world leaders in September 2015, the UN SDGs are our common roadmap to transform our world beyond 2030, and global air transport connectivity is an essential enabler for many of them.

Now for the practical side – making the vision work.

When the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection met in February in Montreal, the 200 participants agreed on a comprehensive set of 17 recommendations that will help ICAO fulfill its mandate on aviation environmental protection.

The set of environmental aircraft design standards cover noise, five pollutants that affect local air quality, and CO2 emissions to protect the global climate.

For the first time the Committee recommended two completely new standards in one meeting:

  • an agreement on a new airplane carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standard
  • an agreement on a new non-volatile Particulate Matter engine emission standard

 The Committee tabled updated trends for CO2, noise and engine emissions and reviewed the technical work to date on a Global Market Based Measure.

They recommended a new publication on “Community Engagement on Aviation Environmental Management,” and established priorities and work programs for the next work cycle in the years 2016-2019.

In the report, Jane Hupe, secretary to the Committee, explained, “The recommended Aeroplane CO2 Emissions Certification Standard is a technology standard with the aim of encouraging more fuel efficient technologies into aeroplane designs. This technology-based approach is similar to the current ICAO engine emissions standards for Local Air Quality and the aircraft noise standards.

The CO2 standard will apply to subsonic jet and turboprop aeroplanes that are new type designs from 2020, as well as to those aeroplane type designs that are in-production in 2023 and undergo a change,” wrote Hupe.

In 2028, there is a production cut-off. Planes that do not meet the standard can no longer be produced from 2028, unless the designs are modified to comply with the standard.

The Committee’s report identifies these trends. “The CO2 emissions that affect the global climate, and emissions that affect local air quality are expected to increase through 2050, but at a rate slower than aviation demand.

Under an advanced aircraft technology and moderate operational improvement scenario, from 2030, aircraft noise exposure may no longer increase with an increase in traffic.

 “International aviation fuel efficiency is expected to improve through 2050, but measures in addition to those considered in this analysis will be required to achieve ICAO’s two percent annual fuel efficiency aspirational goal.

 “Sustainable alternative fuels have the potential to make a significant contribution, but sufficient data are not available to confidently predict their availability over the long term. Also, considering only aircraft technology and operational improvements, additional measures will be needed to achieve carbon neutral growth relative to 2020,” the Committee projects.

Dr. Boubacar Djibo of Niger, director of ICAO’s Air Transport Bureau, wrote in the report, “Alternative fuels are essential to ICAO’s environmental strategy and are an integral part of airlines’ environmental strategies. Indeed, sustainable alternative drop-in fuels are the only practical renewable energy option available for aircraft today. While the technical feasibility, environmental impacts and safety of biofuels have been well-demonstrated, integrated thinking is now required to accompany their large-scale deployment.

The current ICAO Carbon Calculator for passenger air travel emissions is one of the most popular tools developed by ICAO. It allows passengers to estimate the emissions attributed to their air travel on the ICAO website and on mobile applications. It is simple to use and only requires a limited amount of information from the user.

To complement the ICAO Carbon Calculator for passenger air travel emissions, a method for quantifying air cargo CO2 emissions was recommended by the Committee. This new methodology will predict the CO2 emissions from cargo shipped on board both passenger and dedicated cargo aircraft. This tool will only require information such as origin and destination.

ICAO is a UN specialized agency, established by countries in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, known as the Chicago Convention.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon complimented the Committee on its 2016 report, saying, “This edition of the ICAO Environmental Report shows how air transport is well on its way to carrying out forward-looking solutions – and sets out the strategic path for even greater progress.


Featured image:Plane Silhouette,December 20, 2009 (Photo by David Spinks) Creative Commons license via Flickr

EU Emissions Deal Founders on Flexibilities

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Smog in Warsaw, Poland, November 4, 2015 (Photo by Radek Kołakowski) Creative Commons license via Flickr

by Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 19, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Commission and Parliament (EUROPA) are trying to enact ambitious targets to cut air pollution, but Europe’s largest federation of environmental groups warns that EU Member States have agreed on a weak directive that puts industry interests before people’s health.

On June 30, the EU Council and the European Parliament reached a first reading agreement on a new National Emissions Ceiling Directive (NEC) to reduce emissions of air pollutants.

The revision of the current National Emissions Ceiling Directive aims to slash the large number of premature deaths caused by air pollution across the European Union. Each year 400,000 premature deaths in the EU are linked to poor air quality, according to the European Environment Agency.

The new directive sets stricter national limits from 2020 to 2029 and from 2030 onwards.

The EU’s Environment Commissioner is in favor of the new law.

Commissioner Karmenu Vella of Malta, who has charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said, “I very much welcome the provisional agreement between the Council and European Parliament on the Commission’s proposal for a revision of the National Emissions Ceiling Directive – an important instrument to improve air quality and reduce cross-border pollution.

Air pollution is the number-one environmental cause of death in the EU, leading to over 400,000 premature deaths each year. The agreement reached today will cut those impacts by half over the coming years,” said Vella. “It will also deliver direct savings to the economy from fewer lost working days and lower health-care costs and stimulate investments in new technologies and green growth.

 “The negotiations were difficult and complex, but the institutions came together in a spirit of compromise,” the commissioner said. “With this agreement, the EU has acted decisively on an issue of crucial importance to our citizens.

But the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a federation of more than 150 groups in 30 countries, points out what it considers to be serious flaws in the directive.

The Commission included three flexibilities in the original proposal, to which the Council has added five more. Together, these flexibilities will delay action to tackle air pollution while making the Directive a complex, incomprehensible and unenforceable instrument,” the EEB says.

 The flexibilities are drafted in such a way that “compliance is likely to become the exception rather than the rule,” says the EEB, which says the law will not be effective in achieving the targeted air pollution reductions by 2025 and 2030.

The Commission proposed a flexibility that allows a change from the absolute emission ceilings in the 2001 NEC Directive to percentage reduction commitments based on 2005 emissions. EEB says this change increases uncertainty about the extent to which the targeted environmental objectives will actually be achieved.

 Another flexibility enables EU Member States to adjust their emissions inventories in cases where improved emission inventory methods would lead to non-compliance with a reduction commitment.

 A third flexibility proposed by the Commission provides that while in 2025, Member States should be on a linear trajectory towards the achievement of their 2030 Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs), this obligation does not apply to the extent that the necessary measures would entail “disproportionate costs.

Yet, no definition of “disproportionate costs” is provided, so Member States could ignore their 2025 commitments entirely if they think that the cost of any additional measures is disproportionate.

A clear and binding obligation for 2025 would be much more effective in ensuring timely emission reductions, providing clarity to the public and certainty to business,” declares the EEB.

The Council proposes to introduce further flexibility around the 2025 ERC. First, Member States would be under no obligation to achieve a linear trajectory by 2025; this would merely be an “indicative level.” Member States may set themselves a non-linear trajectory if this is economically or technically more efficient. Without any definition, the term “economically or technically more efficient” is practically meaningless, says the EEB. This amendment “essentially allows Member States to set their own ERC for 2025.

 Second, Member States are not even under a clear obligation to achieve this self-determined target, as their obligation is only to “endeavour” to limit their emissions by 2025 rather than the Commission’s wording of “take all appropriate measures (not entailing disproportionate cost)”. In the event that they breach their self-determined target, they need only explain the reasons for this to the Commission.

Taken together, these further flexibilities render the Commission’s already very weak obligations for 2025 almost worthless,” warns the EEB.

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Air pollution near Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 13, 2013 (Photo by Gisela Gerson Lohman-Braun) Creative Commons license via Flickr

 In addition, the Council proposes to allow Member States to calculate their emissions based on a three-year average in the event of a particularly cold winter or dry summer or unforeseen variations in economic activities.

But the EEB worries that dry summers and cold winters exacerbate air quality problems as they are dominated by high pressure weather systems and low wind speeds, which prevent dispersion of pollutants.

A three-year average would allow Member States to pollute more at the very time it is most important that they reduce pollution. Member States need to anticipate such weather conditions and include specific measures in their national programmes to deal with them,” the EEB says, among other objections.

The Council also proposes a new flexibility that would excuse breaches of an ERC for a maximum of five years where the Member State cannot comply after having implemented all cost-effective measures.

The EEB explains that whether measures are cost-effective or not has been a point of disagreement between Member States and the Commission throughout the course of negotiations. “Without an agreed common basis for determining whether measures are cost-effective, Member States will inevitably claim that they have taken all cost-effective measures. The Commission will have to take this information on trust. These ERCs will therefore be practically unenforceable.

 In addition to adding new flexibilities, the Council position weakens the actual level of ambition of ERCs by changing the percentages in Annex II, the environmental groups warn, saying, “ERCs have been weakened for the large majority of Member States and for all pollutants, with some drastically lowered ambition for PM2.5 and ammonia – by as much as 10 percentage points in some cases.

In his speech at the Environment Council’s debate on December 16, 2015, Commissioner Vella estimated that every percentage change from the 52 percent health improvement target proposed by the Commission would result in around 4,000 additional premature deaths in the year 2030.

The four percentage cut proposed by the Council is therefore estimated to cause around 16,000 additional premature deaths in the year 2030.

This combination of lower and more flexible targets is the worst outcome for human health and the environment,” the environmental federation warns. “The cumulative death toll for the 10-year period 2021-2030 will be far higher. We therefore call upon the three institutions to minimize the use of flexibilities in the directive.


Dirtiest Air in World’s Poorest Cities

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By Sunny Lewis                                                                                           Follow us at: @Maximpactdotcom

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 12, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – The poorest cities on Earth have the worst air pollution, data revealed today by the World Health Organization shows.

More than 80 percent of the people living in cities that monitor pollutants in their air are exposed to levels up to 10 times higher than limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO), that UN-affiliated global health agency said today, releasing the latest figures.

The highest urban air pollution levels were found in low-and middle-income countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia regions, where annual mean levels often measured as much as 10 times WHO limits.

While all regions of the world are affected, residents of low-income cities are the most impacted.

WHO’s latest urban air quality data shows that 98 percent of cities in low-income and middle income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines.

In high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56 percent.

“Air pollution is a major cause of disease and death. It is good news that more cities are stepping up to monitor air quality, so when they take actions to improve it they have a benchmark,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant-director general, Family, Women and Children’s Health.

“When dirty air blankets our cities the most vulnerable urban populations – the youngest, oldest and poorest – are the most impacted,” Dr. Bustreo said.

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At sunset, hazy air lingers over Dakar, Senegal, one the world’s 10 poorest cities. (Photo by Jeff Attaway) Creative Commons licence via Flickr

WHO researchers compared a total of 795 cities in 67 countries for levels of small and fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) during the five-year period, 2008-2013.

PM10 and PM2.5 include pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon. They penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, posing the greatest risks to human health.

In the past two years, the database – now covering 3,000 cities in 103 countries – has nearly doubled, with more cities measuring air pollution levels and recognizing the associated health impacts.

As urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.

Ambient air pollution, made of high concentrations of small and fine particulate matter, is the greatest environmental risk to health, say WHO executives. It causes more than three million premature deaths worldwide each year.

“Urban air pollution continues to  rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health,” says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “At the same time, awareness is rising and more cities are monitoring their air quality. When air quality improves, global respiratory and cardiovascular-related illnesses decrease.”

 Most sources of urban outdoor air pollution are beyond the control of individuals and demand action by cities, as well as national and international policymakers to promote cleaner transport, more efficient energy production and waste management.

Yet it is possible for cities to clear the air. More than half of the monitored cities in high-income countries and more than one-third in low  and middle income countries reduced their air pollution levels by more than five percent in five years.

The successful cities reduced industrial smokestack emissions, increased their use of renewables, like solar and wind, and prioritized rapid transit, walking and cycling networks.

“It is crucial for city and national governments to make urban air quality a health and development priority,” says WHO’s Dr. Carlos Dora. “When air quality improves, health costs from air pollution-related diseases shrink, worker productivity expands and life expectancy grows. Reducing air pollution also brings an added climate bonus, which can become a part of countries’ commitments to the climate treaty.”

Analysis of the data reveals that during the 2008-2013 period:

  • Global urban air pollution levels increased by eight percent, although there were improvements in some regions.
  • Urban air pollution levels were lowest in high-income countries, with lower levels most prevalent in Europe, the Americas, and the Western Pacific Region.
  •  In the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia Regions and low-income countries in the Western Pacific Region, levels of urban air pollution has increased by more than 5 percent in more than two-thirds of the cities.
  • In the African Region urban air pollution data remains very sparse, however available data revealed particulate matter (PM) levels above the median.

The world’s 10 poorest cities, by UN ranking, are the capitals of sub-Saharan African nations. They are lacking in the most rudimentary of supplies, and clean water, public transportation and overcrowding are major issues. While the UN categorizes these cities as being among the poorest in the world, they are still expanding rapidly.

During the World Health Assembly, May 24-30, Member States will try to map out a better global response to the health effects of air pollution.


 Main Image: An aerial view of Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, one the world’s 10 poorest cities. (Photo by Christopher Herwig / United Nations) Creative Commons licence via Flickr

Featured Image: 123rf stock photos