Air Pollution and Health in Cities Report- Highlights

On August 17, 2022, Health Effects Institute (HEI) released “Air Quality and Health in Cities” on air quality. As per report, biggest cities and urban areas of the world are witnessing worst air quality on the Earth.  The report includes a comprehensive and detailed analysis of air pollution and global health effects for over 7,000 cities worldwide. It is focused on two harmful pollutants viz., fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Important findings of the report are;

  • In 2019, 7239 cities reported 1.7 million deaths due to exposure to PM2.5.
  • Greatest health impacts can be seen across cities in Asia, Africa, and Eastern & Central Europe.
  • By 2050, around 68% of the world’s population is likely to live in urban areas. Due to rapid urbanization, it would be challenging for top cities, especially in low- and middle-income countries, to reduce the health effects of air pollution.
  • Exposure to fine particulate or PM2.0 pollution is higher in cities across low- and middle-income countries. On the other hand, exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is high in cities across high-income as well.
  • Burning of fuels often in older vehicles, industrial facilities, power plants and residential cooking & heating are responsible for NO2 in environment.
  • In 2019, 86% of over 7,000 cities in this report accounts for more NO2, as opposed to WHO’s guideline of 10 Ig/m3. It impacts around 2.6 billion people.

The report also underlines the data gaps across low- and middle-income nations, which is a significant factor of understanding and countering health effects of air pollution.

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