Most of the world’s population is breathing in bad air and that is adding to concerns about greater global health problems, the WHO warned on Monday (April 5).
In an update released by the agency, it stated that up to 99% of the global population was inhaling bad air that exceeds WHO measurements for air quality. It made this finding after drawing data from over 6,000 municipalities worldwide to measure where they score on its air quality reporting metrics.
In WHO’s measurements of air quality, it made a determination on how harmful it was based on the presence of nitrogen dioxide, a common particle released when fossil fuels are being burned. Traditionally, WHO primarily relied on two types of particulate matter, known as PM2.5 and PM10, but this is the first update that includes nitrogen oxides as a key metric to consider.
Exposure to the particles can contribute to respiratory diseases like asthma and can see people develop symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, resulting in more hospital and emergency-room admissions, said WHO.