WHO releases new global air quality guidelines

New air quality guidelines published on Wednesday by the World Health Organization could prevent millions of deaths globally each year, the UN agency said.

© Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images Smoke from Southern California wildfires drifts through the Los Angeles Basin, obscuring downtown skyscrapers in a view from a closed Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2020.

Fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, is the tiniest pollutant yet also among the most dangerous. When inhaled, it travels deep into lung tissue where it can enter the bloodstream and can contribute to asthma, cardiovascular disease and other respiratory illnesses.

The new guidelines, which hadn’t been updated in 15 years, recommend the concentration of this harmful substance be halved in the world’s air, from 10 micrograms per cubic meter to 5.

In 2016, around 4.1 million premature deaths — more than half of the total deaths attributable to air quality issues — were associated with fine particulate matter. If the new 2021 air quality guidelines had been applied then, there could have been a nearly 80% reduction in PM 2.5-related premature deaths, or 3.3 million fewer deaths, according to the UN agency.

The guidelines, which are designed to help governments craft air quality regulations, also include other major health and climate-damaging pollutants, both outdoor and indoor, such as PM 10 — particulate matter larger than PM 2.5 — as well as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

The report comes as world leaders meet in New York for the 76th United Nations General Assembly to tackle the twin crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. Dorota Jarosińska, the international agency’s technical lead, who helped develop the new global guidelines, called the new update a “triple-win scenario,” as it not only protects public health and improves air quality, but also mitigates the climate crisis.

“These guidelines reinforce the need for urgent action that would benefit the health of all, including vulnerable populations,” Jarosińska told CNN. “This creates a triple-win scenario for the benefit of air quality, climate action and health, and is one of the elements postulated by WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from Covid-19.”

The latest guidelines also support recent research that found air pollution is most likely a contributing factor to health burden caused by Covid-19. Fine particulate matter comes from sources like the burning of fossil fuels, wildfires and agriculture, and is linked to a number of health complications including asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses — all underlying conditions that make people vulnerable to severe outcomes from Covid-19.

People with these underlying medical conditions are at greater risk of developing the most severe outcomes from Covid-19 infection, the research showed. Researchers have already seen a particularly strong connection between the rise in Covid-19 cases and air pollution from wildfires. A recent study published in August found that increases in PM 2.5 from wildfire smoke in 2020 led to a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths across the Western US.

Tarik Benmarhnia, a climate change epidemiologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studied the health impacts of wildfire smoke, said the new guidelines could have been more ambitious than just reducing air quality threshold levels, calling the scope of the new update “a bit underwhelming.”

“There are a lot of evidence that’s been produced in the last few years showing that even at the lowest levels of air pollution, including PM 2.5 and nitrogen dioxide, there is still a huge impact at the population level,” Benmarhnia told CNN.

Global assessments of ambient air pollution alone suggest hundreds of millions of healthy years of life lost, with low and middle-income countries the hardest hit. Still, many countries don’t meet the WHO’s recommended guidelines. In India, where the air in vast parts of the country is often clogged by smoke from industries, recent research showed people could achieve nearly six years of life expectancy if they strictly met air quality guidelines.

© Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP Clairton Coke Works in Clairton, Pennsylvania, where the Allegheny County Health Department issued an air pollution watch in April for the Mon Valley after air quality readings showed an unexpected increase in PM 2.5.

In the US, people of color and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from air pollution. A recent study found that 78% of Black Americans are exposed to higher-than-average concentrations of pollution from every type of source, including industry, agriculture, construction and vehicles.

These same communities also face the greatest impacts of the climate crisis. Some air pollutants including methane — a potent greenhouse gas — as well as the components of soot and urban smog are short-lived climate pollutants, which have been linked to the near-term warming of the planet. They are described as “short-lived” because they persist in the atmosphere for as little as a few days to months.

Despite this, Benmarhnia said the new guidelines could have widened the scope and included more types of sources of emissions in the context of tackling the climate crisis. Still, he adds it gives governments an opportunity to identify more pollution sources and push for more robust policies on their own based on these guidelines.

“This is just one tool, among many others, and it should not be taken for granted,” he said. “It should be some kind of advocacy tool to show that we need to reduce more and more exposure to air pollution.”

The new guidelines reflect the conclusions of the major UN state-of-the-science report on climate change released in August, which calls for strong, rapid cuts on short-lived climate pollutants, particularly methane emissions, to improve air quality and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

“Much of air pollution comes from the same sources that are driving climate change, mainly from burning of fossil fuels,” Jarosińska said. “Therefore, addressing air pollution goes hand in hand with the global climate action — efforts to improve air quality will contribute to climate change mitigation. In turn, climate change mitigation efforts also improve air quality.”

With clearer insights on pollution or emissions sources, WHO is also calling on world leaders to phase out fossil fuels, particularly coal and biomass-fuel combustion. The disparities in air pollution exposure have been stark and are increasing worldwide due to large-scale urbanization and economic development that has recently been largely reliant on burning fossil fuels unsuitable for the planet.

And as the world’s top leaders gather in the chambers of the UN General Assembly this week to address the warming planet ahead of the critical UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, the new air quality guidelines underscore the need for countries to rapidly reduce emissions for healthier air and to mitigate the climate crisis.

Benmarhnia said it’s also important for leaders to note that the new update is not a “one size fits all” solution since countries are not made equal in terms of air quality and the different climate disasters they face.

“Registering inequalities in terms of exposure but also in terms of susceptibility impacts associated with air pollution is important,” he said. “Hopefully, the next guidelines will be a little bit more comprehensive in taking into account the heterogeneity of sources of emission and the composition of particulate matter in the context of climate change.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Suns owner Robert Sarver vehemently denies accusations of racism, sexism, sexual harassment

NBA insider Jordan Schultz delivered a bombshell of a tweet Friday when he announced the league was preparing for a report accusing Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver of acts of ... Read more »

Max flips bird to Hamilton, calls him ‘stupid idiot'

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s latest chapter in their World Championship battle began early in FP2 for the United States Grand Prix. © PA Images Max Verstappen lines up on ... Read more »

Fact check: Image of Ben Shapiro tweet about Columbus Day manipulated

© Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press Ben Shapiro speaks at the Rackham Auditorium on U-M central campus in Ann Arbor, Tuesday, March 12. , Tuesday, March 12, 2019. The claim: ... Read more »

Ducks forward Max Jones out four to six months with torn pectoral

Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones went down with an injury in this past Monday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Calgary Flames.  © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports Anaheim Ducks left wing ... Read more »

Seahawks designate Rashaad Penny to return from injured reserve

© Provided by NBC Sports The Seahawks designated running back Rashaad Penny to return from injured reserve Friday. Now, can he stay healthy? Penny has missed almost as many games ... Read more »

Alex Rodriguez unlikely to return to ‘Sunday Night Baseball'?

ESPN appears to be closing in on a new “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast team, and it might not include Alex Rodriguez. © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports ESPN is holding a ... Read more »

Labor shortage: A fast-food chain is bringing corporate employees to work in its restaurants

Video above: Survey ranks the best fast-food restaurants in America © Provided by WPTZ Plattsburgh-Burlington National fast-food chain Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has a new solution to the restaurant industry’s ... Read more »

Hungary accuses Biden of anti-Orban election interference while hosting US officials at DC celebration

A Hungarian diplomat hosting his U.S. counterpart at a Washington event raised eyebrows Thursday with an acrimonious accusation that the Biden administration is meddling in his country’s upcoming election. © ... Read more »

“Uplifting Voices”, Monday performance benefits South Dakota Voices for Peace

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – South Dakota Voices for Peace (SDVFP) is hosting “Uplifting Voices”, a concert featuring performances by artists of the Sioux Falls Chamber Music Collective ... Read more »

YouTube deletes rapper's 'Let's Go Brandon' song claiming 'medical misinformation'

Rapper Bryson Gray announced on Twitter Thursday that his music video poking fun at President Joe Biden was removed from YouTube due to “medical misinformation.” “YouTube has banned ‘Let’s Go ... Read more »

Perspective Battlefield 2042 players are very concerned about a particular specialist

With the recent reveal of the remaining cast of specialists we will be able to play in Battlefield 2042, perspective players immediately noticed the abilities of recon specialist Ji-Soo Paik. ... Read more »

Security ramped up at Old Trafford ahead of United vs Liverpool

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Security will be ramped up around the hotels and team buses used by Manchester United and Liverpool for Sunday’s clash, following the trouble that ... Read more »

KEOWN: United need a slap in the face before facing Liverpool

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo This Manchester United side need a metaphorical slap in the face before they start to play. Conceding provokes a real response from their ... Read more »

El Paso R&B singer Khalid to release mixed tape titled 'Scenic Drive' in December

El Paso R&B singer Khalid tweeted Friday that he will release a mixed tape, “Scenic Drive,” in December. As part of his tweet, Khalid shared a video that features El Paso’s Star on ... Read more »

Biden injects new momentum into filibuster fight

Progressives are feeling emboldened after President Biden backed “fundamentally” changing the filibuster, adding a jolt of momentum into the entrenched Senate stalemate. © Getty Images President Biden speaks during a ... Read more »

Everything we know about the fatal ‘Rust' shooting — and what could happen next

There are still many unanswered questions about what legal repercussions — if any — will follow an investigation into the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico ... Read more »

The Supreme Court's Texas Abortion Case Could Give States More Power Than Ever

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined for the second time to immediately block Texas’ six-week abortion ban, but said it will hear two separate challenges to the law from ... Read more »

This resistance band routine will work your entire body in 15 minutes

Resistance bands have become increasingly popular, largely due to their convenience and portability. They also work your muscles in a unique way: Since there is resistance during the concentric and ... Read more »

A 72-Year-Old Woman Who Died From ‘Homicidal Violence' Was Found Stuffed in Her Home's Crawlspace 9 Years Ago. Now, Her Son Wants Answers.

“She Did Her Best,” a mysteriously murdered woman’s obituary reads. © Provided by Law & Crime Joanne Brownlee was 72 years old when her body was discovered crammed into the ... Read more »

What we know about the deadly shooting on Alec Baldwin's 'Rust': Search warrant executed for ranch

While filming his upcoming film “Rust” on Thursday, Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm that killed the cinematographer and injured the film’s director in an on-set incident, authorities say.  The shooting occurred ... Read more »

EXPLAINER: California proposes limits on community drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An ambitious plan by California regulators to block new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet (975 meters) of schools and homes is drawing protests from ... Read more »

UPDATE 2-Motor racing-Verstappen calls Hamilton a 'stupid idiot' as F1 rivals clash

* Verstappen and Hamilton go wheel-to-wheel in practice * Red Bull’s Perez fastest in second practice * Bottas led the way in the morning * Finn will have a five-place ... Read more »

Aldi Is Bringing Back Its Wine Advent Calendar For the Holiday Season - Cheers to That!

It’s truly never too early to get psyched for the holiday season, and Aldi just gave us a major reason to start counting down the days already. The affordable grocery ... Read more »

Beyoncé's Ivy Park x Peloton Capsule is Dropping Next Month

© Daniel Sannwald Peloton-Beyonce Two powerhouse brands are linking up this season. Adidas x Ivy Park and Peloton have joined forces to debut their first collaborative capsule collection of apparel ... Read more »

How to Hang Christmas Lights on Your Tree Like a Pro

The job of stringing lights on your tree is no joke, and unless you have a team of elves to help you out, you’re likely all on your own to ... Read more »

Watch This Half-Track Quad Defy Gravity and Power up Hills

When you think of a half-track, your mind probably first conjures up images of quirky World War II armored fighting vehicles. They’re probably fun to hoon in their own right, ... Read more »

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pays out $25,000 to Democrat for Republican voter fraud

A week after the 2020 election, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that he was offering up to $1 million — paid from his campaign account — “to incentivize, encourage ... Read more »

Suns owner Robert Sarver facing removal amid allegations of racism, sexism?

The NBA may be bracing itself for a repeat of the Donald Sterling situation. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver Jordan Schultz of Boardroom reported ... Read more »

Special trade eligibility dates for 2021-22

In a pair of previous articles, we took a closer look at the trade restrictions placed on two groups of players who signed free-agent contracts this past offseason. The smaller ... Read more »

Report: Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury booked for Dec. 18

Report: Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury booked for Dec. 18. © Provided by Fansided Boxing fans wanted the controversial YouTuber turned boxing star Jake Paul to face a real boxer, ... Read more »

The United States of Biscuits

There’s a kind of irony to an Australian writing about biscuits. © Provided by Food & Wine Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Torie Cox We don’t even ... Read more »

DHS awards $455,000 contract to build fence around Biden beach house

A $455,000 fence may soon surround President Joe Biden’s Delaware beach house. © Provided by Washington Examiner The Department of Homeland Security awarded a $456,548 contract in September to Rehoboth’s ... Read more »

Biden's looming European high-wire act

President Joe Biden heads to Europe next week for a series of high-stakes meetings and summits. Here’s a primer on what to know: © Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images US President Joe ... Read more »

Georgia to Offer Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Booster Starting Tuesday

Georgia is set to roll out Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine boosters on Tuesday for eligible individuals. © Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images Georgia is set to ... Read more »

What's the best booster to get? And other questions about Covid-19 boosters

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has weighed in with the latest word on booster vaccines and drugstores have already started advertising their supply. © Jae C. Hong/AP ... Read more »

Fact check: Image doesn't show a poisonous caterpillar, but touching it can cause allergic reactions

The claim: Image shows a poisonous caterpillar that can cause anaphylactic shock in people © Submitted The Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar has venom on its back that can cause rashes on ... Read more »

911 Call Reveals Details About Alec Baldwin's On-Set Shooting Accident: 'We Need Help Immediately'

More details are emerging about the tragic accident on the New Mexico set of Alec Baldwin‘s upcoming western film when his prop gun misfired, accidentally killing the film’s cinematographer and injuring ... Read more »

Kendall Jenner Just Wore A Cow Print Thong Bikini To Show Off Her 🍑

© Jeff Kravitz – Getty Images Giving us another iteration of her favorite pose, Kendall flaunted booty on the main. She channelled the western vibes, wearing a cheeky cow print ... Read more »

George Lopez to Star in, Executive Produce NBC Comedy

© Paul Archuleta/Getty Images George Lopez George Lopez is making his way back to broadcast television. The comedian and actor will star in and executive produce a comedy called Lopez ... Read more »

Dems eye slimmed-down drug price deal to advance social spending bill

Congressional Democrats are watering down — and may entirely drop — a plan to have the government directly negotiate some Medicare drug prices in order to help clinch a deal ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic