The WHO today presented a report in which it assesses the air quality to which the world population is exposed and quantifies the diseases and deaths derived from this pollution.
More detailed data
The data is the most detailed ever published by WHO, which uses figures from satellite measurements, air transport models, and ground station monitors for more than 3,000 locations in 103 countries, both rural and urban.
The report confirms the data revealed in previous studies that 3 million deaths per year in 2012 - the most recent figures available - were related to exposure to outdoor pollution.
However, it reduces the number of global deaths due to pollution - both exterior and interior - and leaves it at 6.5 million, when in previous reports it placed it at 7 million.
Sources of contamination
The main sources of air pollution include inefficient transportation models, household fuel burning and waste burning, power plants, and industrial activities.
The main pollutants are microparticles - with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers -, sulfate, nitrates and soot.
Most polluted areas
The report does not make a classification of the most polluted countries or the least polluted, it is limited to saying that the regions where the air quality is worse are those of Southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and the western Pacific.
Likewise, with respect to the least polluted areas, the text indicates that three-quarters of the population of high-income countries in the Americas, as well as 20 percent of the population living in middle- and low-income nations of the same region live in places with air quality considered correct.
A situation that also occurs in less than 20 percent of European countries and the rich countries of the western Pacific.
Dead from pollution
For example, the report indicates that in Spain in 2012 there were 6,860 deaths attributed to poor air quality, which represents 7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, a proportion equal to that of the United States, but much higher than the 0.2 registered in Sweden or 0.3 in New Zealand.
The countries with the most deaths related to air pollution are Turkmekistan with 108 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants; Afghanistan, with 81 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants; Egypt with 77; China with 70; or India with 68.
Almost 90 percent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and nearly two out of three occur in the Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions.
94 percent of deaths are due to noncommunicable diseases, mostly cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic obstructive lung disease, and lung cancer.
Air pollution also increases the risk of acute respiratory infections.