Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

For the first time in 15 years, the WHO raises the bar for air quality and changes standards

October 1, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing for a considerable tightening of clean air quality to achieve near-zero tolerance for particle pollution and preserve public health

The new WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) demonstrate the harmful effects of air pollution on human health at significantly lower concentrations than previously thought. The guidelines propose new air quality standards to protect people’s health by lowering levels of major air contaminants, some of which are also linked to climate change. Since the last WHO global update in 2005, there has been a significant increase in evidence demonstrating how air pollution impacts several areas of health.

As a result, and following a comprehensive evaluation of the available information, WHO has lowered almost all of the AQGs levels, warning that exceeding the new air quality guideline limits has considerable health risks. Adherence to them, on the other hand, could save millions of lives. Air pollution is projected to cause 7 million premature deaths per year, as well as the loss of millions of healthy years of life. Reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections, and asthma flare-ups are all possibilities in youngsters. The most prevalent causes of early death in adults due to outdoor air pollution are ischemic heart disease and stroke, but evidence of other consequences such as diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders is now developing. This puts the illness burden associated with air pollution on line with other significant global health concerns like poor diet and cigarette use.

Along with climate change, air pollution is one of the most serious environmental hazards to human health. Improving air quality can help with climate change mitigation, and lowering emissions will help with air quality. Countries will preserve public health as well as mitigate global climate change by attempting to achieve these guideline levels. The WHO’s new guidelines recommend air quality standards for six contaminants for which the data on health impacts from exposure has progressed the most. When actions are performed to reduce particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO), they have an impact on other harmful pollutants.