US And Canada Have Lowest Levels of Air Pollution

Friday, 30 September 2011 09:18 AM

Large cities in North America are less polluted than other similar-size cities around the globe, according to new study by the World Health Organization that found some of the highest levels of air pollution in Pakistan, Iran, India, Mongolia and Botswana.

The study of nearly 1,100 cities of populations of 100,000 or more in 91 countries was the first of its kind undertaken by the WHO, which expressed concern about an increase in premature deaths and illnesses tied to bad air quality.

For example, the WHO doctors and scientists estimated in their report on the study that there were at least 1.34 million deaths in 2008 from heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and respiratory infections associated with air pollution compared to 1.15 million in 2004. Today, they estimate that as many as 2 million people die each years as a result of both indoor and outdoor pollution.

According to the study, the causes of the pollution – depending on locations – ranged from burning wood, coal and biomass for heat to motor vehicle exhausts, coal-fired power plants, and small-scale manufacturing and other industries.

“Air pollution is a major environmental health issue and it is vital that we increase efforts to reduce the health burden it creates,” Dr Maria Neira, WHO director for public health and environment said in a statement. “If we monitor and manage the environment properly we can significantly reduce the number of people suffering from respiratory and heart disease, and lung cancer.”

Neira noted the lack of even minimal air quality standards in many countries as a major problem and pointed out that where they do exist the “standards and their enforcement vary markedly.”

At least 84 cities in Canada and the United States, including Houston, Texas, Sante Fe, N.M., and Clearwater, Calif., were found to have the lowest amounts of fine particle pollution measured in the study, thanks primarily to some of the toughest air quality standards in the world.

© HealthDay

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Friday, 30 September 2011 09:18 AM
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