Nearly everyone in the world breathes poor-quality air, the World Health Organization announced on Monday via NBC News.
The agency's update on global air quality about six months after tightening its guidelines and said 99% of the global population breathes air that doesn't meet its standards, calling for additional steps to be taken in its effort to reduce fossil fuel use.
The WHO said the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia were the two areas with the poorest air quality, followed by Africa.
“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” said Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO’s department of environment, climate change and health, via NBC News. “Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air.”
The WHO has previously considered PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter to measure air quality and included ground measurements of nitrogen dioxide during its most recent study.
Nitrogen dioxide typically originates from human-generated burning of fuel -- which would include automobile traffic -- and is commonly found in urban areas.
Exposure to nitrogen dioxide can lead to numerous respiratory diseases such as asthma, as well as other symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulties and other health concerns.