ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

Stricter standards to reduce air pollution deaths: WHO

Stricter air pollution standards could reduce deaths in polluted cities by 15 per cent every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed.

The revelation came as the WHO challenged governments around the world to improve air quality in their cities to protect people's health and unveiled its new Air Quality Guidelines with dramatically lower standards for pollutant levels.

WHO said in a statement that it believes that reducing levels of one particular type of pollutant (PM10) could reduce deaths in polluted cities by as much as 15% every year. The Guidelines also substantially lower the recommended limits of ozone and sulphur dioxide.

“The Air Quality Guidelines for the first time address all regions of the world and provide uniform targets for air quality. These targets are far tougher than the national standards currently applied in many parts of the world - and in some cities would mean reducing current pollution levels by more than three-fold”, the WHO statement said.

Air pollution is estimated to cause approximately two million premature deaths worldwide per year.
"By reducing air pollution levels, we can help countries to reduce the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer which they otherwise would be facing. Moreover, action to reduce the direct impact of air pollution will also cut emissions of gases which contribute to climate change and provide other health benefits," said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health and the Environment.

“These new guidelines have been established after a worldwide consultation with more than 80 leading scientists. As such, they present the most widely agreed and up-to-date assessment of health effects of air pollution, recommending targets for air quality at which the health risks are significantly reduced. We look forward to working with all countries to ensure these Guidelines become part of national law,” says Dr. Roberto Bertollini, Director of the Special Programme for Health and Environment of WHO's Regional Office for Europe.

“Many countries do not have regulations on air pollution. These Guidelines indicate levels of pollution at which the risk to health is minimal. They provide the basis for all countries to build their own air quality standards and policies supporting health with solid, scientific evidence”, WHO said.

Top to the page

Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.