Air pollution: the new 2021 recommendations of the WHO

Air pollution: the new recommendations of the WHO

On September 22, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new revised air quality guidelines. This is the first time that the WHO has updated its global air quality guidelines since 2005. What WHO recommendations?

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9 out of 10 people in the world breathe polluted air according to the WHO.

Air pollution is a threat to health and the environment. According to WHO Director-General Tedro Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “There is nothing more essential to life than air. And yet, because of air pollution, just breathing causes 7 million deaths a year, ”he told a press conference.

This is why the World Health Organization has decided to lower almost all of the reference thresholds, stressing that exceeding these new air quality thresholds would entail significant health risks, while compliance with these could save millions of lives.

Air pollution: what are the risks for the health of populations?

  • For children:

More than 90% of children in the world breathe polluted air every day. Air pollution affects neurological development and cognitive abilities, and can cause asthma and some childhood cancers.

In addition, children exposed to high levels of air pollution are also at high risk of chronic diseases in the future.

  • For pregnant women :

Pregnant women are more vulnerable and sensitive to air pollution. This is because poor air quality can cause complications in babies.

Pregnant women exposed to polluted air are more likely to give birth to premature and low birth weight babies.

  • For adults :

In adults, air pollution can cause respiratory and pulmonary problems (asthma, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart problems and can also increase the risk of stroke.

There are many pollutants in the air we breathe and each of them can have a long term impact on our health. Find the different air pollutants and their effects on health here.

What pollutants are reviewed by the WHO?

All major pollutants listed in the 2005 guidelines have been reviewed and revised. These are particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

The new WHO recommendations:Icône de validation par la communauté



Air pollution: WHO's new 2021 recommendations

Sources: New Air Quality Guidelines (AQG) recommended in 2021 compared to 2005 air quality guidelines – WHO

How to protect yourself from air pollution?

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