Every year, air pollution kills 7 million people around the world.
Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for nations to work together to stop “the world’s largest single environmental health risk,” and reduce the number of pollution-related fatalities worldwide.
“Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution,” Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, warned. “The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”
Women and children as well as those living in poverty are the most at-risk for health complications and death due to poor air quality.
“Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves,” Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director-general for Family, Women and Children’s Health, explained, pointing out the death often resulted from heart disease, stroke, and, especially in children, respiratory infections.
However, even in developed nations like Israel, people die due to poor air quality. The Environmental Protection Ministry estimates 700 Israelis die each year due to pollution, a number Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said is too high.
Drawing attention to the WHO’s findings about the environmental and health costs of air pollution worldwide, the ministry stressed the need for swift implementation of an August 2013 clean air bill aimed at reducing pollution levels throughout Israel.
Those measures, which include current initiatives to scrap gas-guzzling vehicles and stricter air quality regulations, are aimed at cleaning up Israel’s air and helping protect lives.
“Protection of the air we breathe is reflected immediately in human life,” Peretz said, emphasizing that Israel must do its part to stop air pollution.