Air pollution kills about 7 million people yearly

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Fine particle air pollution in the United Kingdom is exceeding recommended limits in around half of towns and cities in the United Kingdom covered by measurements, leading to increased calls for air quality action. But the most disquieting fact is that among the worst affected cities in the world, Indian cities top the list.

New data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have shown that 7million people die every year from breathing highly contaminated air.

On some days, the air pollution in Srinagar is worse than that of Delhi and overall as bad as Kolkata. The WHO said the scheme has enabled 37 million women living below the poverty line to switch to clean energy by providing them with free LPG connections.

Air pollution in cities in these regions is sometimes five times more than the WHO's pollution limits.

The report said seven million people a year worldwide are dying due to poor air quality, and nine out of 10 people are exposed to levels of air pollution that are unsafe to their health.

Air pollution is linked to an increased risk of both heart attacks and stroke.

Of the 2.2 million air pollution-related deaths in the region in 2016, 29 percent were due to heart disease, 27 percent stroke, 22 percent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 14 percent lung cancer, and 8 percent pneumonia.

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The good news is that the Indian government recently announced a National Clean Air Plan, strengthening air quality monitoring and requiring the 100 most polluted cities to devise their own action plans. Globally, ambient air pollution - caused by industries, cars and trucks, among others, caused 4.2 million deaths and indoor pollution caused 3.8 million deaths in 2016. About 3 billion people are breathing deadly fumes from domestic cooking stoves and fires, according to the Geneva-based agency.

Maria Neira echoed that message, highlighting "an acceleration of political interest in this global public health challenge".

"If we don't take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development", said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

The data shows that the highest ambient air pollution levels are found in what World Health Organization dubs the Eastern Mediterranean region - which basically covers the Middle East and North Africa - and in South-East Asia.

The South-East Asian and Eastern Mediterranean regions showed the highest levels of ambient air pollution.

Although the figures for deaths from air pollution make it one of the leasing causes of death in the modern world, they are fewer than was reported by a study released a year ago by British health magazine, The Lancet.

The government has already led the battle against pollution.