WHO Regulations of Air Quality and Where We Stand
What comes to your mind when you hear Air Quality?
Well, to us, what occurs is deterioration day by day! Free access to pure air quality is every human's right but we are currently deprived of the same. Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to human health. According to the WHO, 99% of the world's population is breathing polluted air.
The latest Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) from WHO came in the year 2021 after the changes made in 2005. Since then, there has been a significant increase in air pollution affecting different aspects of health. Post a structured and systematic evaluation of the accumulated evidence, WHO made changes to the AQGs by lowering the levels. WHO also gave a warning that exceeding the new air quality guideline levels will come with serious consequences to health. At the same time, looking at the positive side: if the standards are met and taken care of then it would lead to saving lives of millions.
As per the data, every year, exposure to air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths and results in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. Let's have a look at the negative impact on different age groups:
In children, this could lead to significant reduction in lung growth and function, respiratory infections, and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature deaths.
Health risks associated with particulate matter equal or smaller than 10 and 2.5 microns (µm) in diameter (PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅, respectively) are of particular public health relevance. Both PM₂.₅ and PM₁₀ are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs but PM₂.₅ can even enter the bloodstream, primarily resulting in cardiovascular and respiratory impacts, and also affecting other organs. PM is primarily generated by fuel combustion in different sectors, including transport, energy, households, industry, and from agriculture.
The goal of the guideline was for all countries to achieve recommended air quality levels. It is certainly a difficult task to achieve for many countries task for many countries and regions. Keeping that in mind, WHO had proposed interim targets to showcase stepwise improvement in air quality over a period of time.