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Figures show that air quality is getting worse in most cities

Figures show that air quality is getting worse in most cities

New data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that, in many cities around the world, outdoor air quality is at levels that could pose a danger to lung health.

The 2014 WHO ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database holds information on 1,600 cities in 91 countries.

Of the cities actively monitoring air quality, only 12% were within the levels recommended as safe for human health by the WHO. Around half of the people living in these areas faced more than 2.5 times the maximum recommended amounts of air pollution.

Comparing the new figures with previous years, where data was available, it is clear that air quality is getting worse in most cities. However, some cities have made improvements through new policies.

“We can win the fight against air pollution and reduce the number of people suffering from respiratory and heart disease, as well as lung cancer,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

“Effective policies and strategies are well understood, but they need to be implemented at sufficient scale. Cities such as Copenhagen and Bogotà, for example, have improved air quality by promoting ‘active transport’ and prioritising dedicated networks of urban public transport, walking and cycling.”

Read the original news release 

Check the WHO ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database 2014

Read our factsheet on outdoor air pollution and the lungs

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