WHO: Air Quality Deteriorating in Many Cities

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WHO: Air Quality Deteriorating in Many Cities

7 May 2014 - The World Health Organization announced today that only 12% of people living in cities where outdoor air pollution is monitored breathe air that complies with WHO air quality guidelines. The WHO evaluation is based on a database of 1600 cities across 91 countries.

Exposure to black carbon and other air pollutants can mean severe health problems for millions of people. WHO issued a renewed call “for greater awareness of health risks caused by air pollution, implementation of effective air pollution mitigation policies, and close monitoring of the situation in cities worldwide.”

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) is developing a global campaign with the slogan “Clean Air in Every Breath,” led by WHO, Norway and a CCAC Health Task Force.  The campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness of the link between health problems and high levels of air pollution, particularly from black carbon and methane.

"The CCAC welcomes the release of this database from our Partner WHO,” said Helena Molin Valdes, Head of the CCAC Secretariat. “The more that such data is made available, the more accurate will be our scenarios at both city level and nationally to plan for appropriate interventions at the source of the contamination.”

The CCAC conducts a number of initiatives aimed at reducing short-lived climate pollutants.

“Many CCAC initiatives can help increase the availability of information and improve methodologies to monitor the emissions at the source, especially black carbon and methane,” Molin Valdes continued. “Both these pollutants are very detrimental to health. We look forward to an urban and health-oriented scale-up of our work, together with WHO and Norway."

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants is a partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, the environmental community, and other members of civil society. The Coalition is government-led but is highly cooperative and voluntary. Short-lived climate pollutants are agents that have a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere—a few days to a few decades—but also a warming influence on climate as well as, in many cases, detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.

For more information on the CCAC, please see www.unep.org/ccac or contact the CCAC Secretariat at ccac_secretariat@unep.org.       

WHO press release: http://who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-quality/en/