Environment

Air pollution kills 7 million/yr, says WHO, tightens guidelines – Naveen Bharat

With a view to save people from the ill-effects of air pollution, World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday released its revised air quality guidelines for six major pollutants, including extremely hazardous particulate matter – PM 2.5 and PM 10 – making them more stringent than earlier standards set in 2005.
India is currently working on revising its air quality standards, which were last updated in 2009. They are due to be released next year.
The WHO said that more than 7 million deaths annually worldwide are currently linked to exposure to these pollutants.

The new standards would mean 90% of the global population and almost 100% of the people South Asia Live in areas that exceed pollution limits. While these Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) are not legally binding for countries, they can help them come out with their respective benchmarks taking into account meteorological and topographical factors.
“I urge all countries to use these guidelines to save lives, support healthy communities and help tackle the climate crisis,” the WHO director-general said. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The WHO claimed that “around 80% of the world’s deaths from exposure to PM2.5 could be avoided if countries achieve annual AQG levels for PM2.5”. Of all the classical pollutants, inhalable PM2.5 is considered the most dangerous as it accumulates in the lungs through breathing and causes severe respiratory problems.
India is also expected to make these standards more strict through its updates. While it may not be at the level of WHO standards, experts expect it to be at least close to global standards.
“Air pollution is a serious health crisis and WHO’s revised air quality guidelines focus on this issue. There are no two ways about the need to revise India’s air quality standards to make them more stringent. Even Even at the current relaxed standard of 40 ug/m3 for annual PM2.5 average in India versus the WHO’s 2005 annual limit of 10 ug/m3, most Indian cities are unable to meet even those levels. failed,” said SN Tripathi, Professor IIT Kanpur and a member of the Steering Committee of the country’s National Clean Air Program (NCAP)
At the same time, Tripathi called for strengthening India’s health statistics. He said, “India’s diverse demographics, exposures and varying PM2.5 composition require raw health data to conduct a large range of health studies along with the effects of air pollution. A single risk aversion response would not be suited to the Indian population. Under the NCAP, India aims to reduce by 20-30% of PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024 from 2017 levels.
26. guidelines issued before th The session of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) assumes significance given the ongoing momentum to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) to substantially meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. to be held in the conference Glasgow, UK in November
Some air pollutants – notably black carbon (a component of PM) and tropospheric (ground-level) ozone – are also short-lived climate pollutants, associated with both health effects and near-term warming of the planet.
Since they persist in the atmosphere for a few days or months, and their reduction has co-benefits not only for health but also for the climate, the WHO said, “almost all efforts to improve air quality enhance climate change mitigation.” and efforts to mitigate climate change could, in turn, improve air quality. In particular, reduction or phase-out of the combustion of fossil and biomass fuels GHG emissions as well as health-related air pollutants. will reduce

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