91395271_4c6a7f44-048d-48e5-b2ad-432ee54e3600Polluted air affects 92% of global population, says WHO

Nine out of 10 people on the planet breathe polluted air, even outdoors, the World Health Organisation said.


Beijing Struck By SandstormCommonly Uses Cheap Cloth Mask Not Very Effective Against Air Pollution

A new study reveals that the cheap cloth masks, most commonly used in highly polluted areas in Asia and Southeast Asia, could not protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution.

6344674589_3a6a5a27cd_z_news_featuredSouth Asia’s pollution spreads to Tibet New research shows how haze from Nepal and India travels over the Himalayas, causing pollution spikes on northern slopes of Everest and central Tibet.


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Four in 10 UK councils exceed air pollution limits, figures show 

Ministers reveal 169 local authorities breached annual legal limits on nitrogen oxide, linked to lung disease, last year

Four in 10 of Britain’s local authorities breached legal air quality limits last year, largely due to heavy road traffic, government records reveal.

Ministers have admitted that 169 local authorities were found to have gone over annual limits on nitrogen dioxide. It is an invisible gas produced predominantly by road traffic, and is linked to lung disease and cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

Monitoring stations in councils across all four nations of the UK recorded breaches of the legal limits on NO2, data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs shows.

A report in April from the environment, food and rural affairs select committee stated that poor air quality was linked to more than 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year. The committee is chaired by Neil Parish, the Tory MP who obtained the latest figures from the government.

Parish said he was working with the liberal conservative thinktank Bright Blue to secure the power and funding to introduce a clean air zone in pollution hotspots in all local authorities. This month, the government made available £3m for councils to bid for funding to improve air quality.

Parish said: “These are shocking statistics. When we think of areas breaking air quality laws, we usually think of a handful of areas in our busiest towns and cities. These figures show just how widespread the problem is across the UK. It requires a comprehensive solution – urgently”.

“The government needs to act now to give all councils the power – and crucially, the funding – to implement a clean air zone and limit the most polluting vehicles in hotspot areas. The £3m government funding pot is a start but not nearly enough. We also need a big push to incentivise electric and low emissions vehicles to replace the oldest, most polluting vehicles.”

The government is being hauled before the courts over its failure to tackle the levels of nitrogen dioxide. A 1999 European Union directive set legal limits that came into force in 2010. Now the legal activist group, ClientEarth, is asking the high court to order ministers to come up with a better plan for improving air quality.

Sam Hall, environment researcher at Bright Blue, said the worst polluting carsshould be banned from cities in order to tackle the problem. “Forty percent of local authorities in the UK breached legal air pollution limits last year,” he said. “Poor air quality is clearly a national public health issue that requires urgent action.

“The government’s current plans for clean air zones in just five cities do not go far enough. Ministers should enable all city councils to set up clean air zones to restrict the dirtiest cars from urban centres.

“Together with measures to encourage greater uptake of electric vehicles, this approach would reduce air pollution, cut carbon emissions and boost automotive manufacturing in the UK.”

Source: Four in 10 UK councils exceed air pollution limits, figures show | Environment | The Guardian

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Protecting people and planet from ‘invisible killer’ is focus of UN health campaign to tackle air pollution

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Coalition for Climate and Clean Air (CCAC) and the Government of Norway has launched a global awareness campaign on the dangers of air pollution – especially ‘invisible killers’ such as black carbon, ground-level ozone and methane – for the health of individuals and the planet.

Titled BreatheLife: Clean air. A healthy future, the campaign aims to mobilize cities and their inhabitants on issues of health and protecting the planet from the effects of air pollution. Moreover, By WHO and CCAC joining forces, ‘BreatheLife’ brings together expertise and partners that can tackle both the climate and health impacts of air pollution.

According to WHO, air pollution kills nearly seven million people each year, nearly 12 per cent of deaths worldwide. It is responsible for 35 per cent of deaths due to lung disease, 27 per cent of deaths from heart disease, 34 per cent of deaths from stroke, and 36 per cent of deaths from lung cancer.

Urban air pollution levels also tend to be higher in many low and middle-income cities and in poor neighbourhoods of high-income cities. This means reductions in pollutants can have particularly large health benefits for lower income groups as well as for children, elderly, and women, the agency explains.

The campaign seeks to cut in half the number of deaths from air pollution by 2030 – the target year for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

‘Breathe Life’ highlights the practical policies that cities can implement to improve the air quality through better housing, transport infrastructure, managements of waste and energy systems. It also educates individuals and communities about the measures they can take daily to achieve cleaner air, such as stopping the incineration of waste, development of green spaces and the choice of walking or cycling.

Improved vehicle standards, prioritization of clean public transport, and the adoption of stoves and more efficient alternative fuel for cooking, lighting and heating are also part of the actions put forward by the campaign the goal of saving more lives and protect the environment.

For WHO and its partners, this series of measures to achieve a reduction of pollutants could significantly reduce the number of annual deaths from air pollution.

Source: United Nations News Centre – Protecting people and planet from ‘invisible killer’ is focus of UN health campaign to tackle air pollution

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Air pollution more deadly in Africa than malnutrition or dirty water, study warns 

Annual human and economic cost of tainted air runs to 712,000 lost lives and £364bn, finds Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Africa’s air pollution is causing more premature deaths than unsafe water or childhood malnutrition, and could develop into a health and climate crisis reminiscent of those seen in China and India, a study by a global policy forum has found.

The first major attempt to calculate both the human and financial cost of the continent’s pollution suggests dirty air could be killing 712,000 people a year prematurely, compared with approximately 542,000 from unsafe water, 275,000 from malnutrition and 391,000 from unsafe sanitation.

While most major environmental hazards have been improving with development gains and industrialisation, outdoor (or “ambient particulate”) air pollution from traffic, power generation and industries is increasing rapidly, especially in fast-developing countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

“Annual deaths from ambient [outdoor] particulate matter pollution across the African continent increased by 36% from 1990 to 2013. Over the same period, deaths from household air pollution also continued to increase, but only by 18%”, said a researcher at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development development centre. The OECD is funded by the world’s richest 34 countries.

For Africa as a whole, the estimated economic cost of premature air pollution deaths in 2013 was roughly $215bn (£175bn) a year for outdoor air pollution, and $232bn for household, or indoor, air pollution.

The study’s author, Rana Roy, is concerned by the pace at which outdoor air pollution is growing in Africa, bucking the downward trend in most countries. Used cars and trucks imported from rich countries are adding to urban pollution caused by household cooking on open fires.

“This mega-trend is set to continue to unfold throughout this century. It suggests that current means of transportation and energy generation in African cities are not sustainable,” said Roy. “Alternative models to those imported from industrialised economies, such as dependence on the individual automobile, are necessary.

“It is striking that air pollution costs in Africa are rising in spite of slow industrialisation, and even de-industrialisation in many countries. Should this latter trend successfully be reversed, the air pollution challenge would worsen faster, unless radically new approaches and technologies were put to use.

“The ‘new’ problem of outdoor air pollution is too large to be ignored or deferred to tomorrow’s agenda. At the same time, Africa cannot afford to ignore the ‘old’ problem of household pollution or to consider it largely solved: it is only a few high-income countries – Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Seychelles and Tunisia – that can afford to view the problem of air pollution as being a problem of outdoor particulate pollution alone.”

The study stresses that there is not nearly enough knowledge of the sources of air pollution and its impact in much of Africa. It quotes UK scientist Mathew Evans, professor of atmospheric chemistry at York University, who is leading a large-scale investigation of air pollution in west Africa.

“London and Lagos have entirely different air quality problems. In cities such as London, it’s mainly due to the burning of hydrocarbons for transport. African pollution isn’t like that. There is the burning of rubbish, cooking indoors with inefficient fuel stoves, millions of steel diesel electricity generators, cars which have had the catalytic converters removed and petrochemical plants, all pushing pollutants into the air over the cities. Compounds such as sulphur dioxide, benzene and carbon monoxide, that haven’t been issues in western cities for decades, may be a significant problem in African cities. We simply don’t know.”

Whereas China has reached a level of development that has allowed it to concentrate on solving air pollution, most African countries must grapple with several major environmental burdens at the same time, said the report.

“[They] are not in the position of a China, which can today focus on air pollution undistracted by problems such as unsafe water or unsafe sanitation or childhood underweight,” said Roy.

Henri-Bernard Solignac-Lecomte, head of the Europe, Middle east and Africa unit at the OECD development centre, said the paper made a double case for action. “Air pollution in Africa increasingly hurts people and hinders economic development. Reducing it requires urgent action by governments to change the unsustainable course of urbanisation. Indeed, Africa urbanises at a very fast pace: today’s 472 million urban dwellers will be around a billion in 2050. Today’s investment choices will have decade-long impacts on urban infrastructure and the quality of life of urbanites.

“Bold action to improve access to electricity, using clean technologies such as solar power, can contribute to reducing the exposure of the poorer families to indoor smog from coal or dung-fired cooking stoves.

“As for outdoor pollution, African economies would be well advised to learn from the experience of industrialised countries, for example by developing mass public transportation systems – like Rabat or Addis-Ababa are doing with their tramways.”

Roy warned that the human and economic costs of air pollution might “explode” without bold policy changes in Africa’s urbanisation policies.

She concluded with a call for urgent international action: “If Africa’s local air pollution is contributing to climate change today, at a time when its population stands at 1.2 billion, or 16% of the world’s population, it is safe to suppose that … it is likely to contribute considerably more when its population increases to around 2.5 billion, or 25% of the world’s population in 2050, and thence to around 4.4 billion, or 40% of the world’s population in 2100.”

Source: Air pollution more deadly in Africa than malnutrition or dirty water, study warns | Global development | The Guardian

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Beijing issues air pollution alert 

Beijing environmental authorities issued a yellow alert for air pollution on Tuesday afternoon, as smog is forecast for the capital for two days.

The yellow alert, the third-highest warning level, came shortly after smog eased Sunday. It means the Air Quality Index will exceed 200 for 48 hours.

Disadvantageous climatic conditions will contribute to the upcoming haze, according to the local emergency office for severe air pollution.

Residents have been advised to take protective measures, such as keeping their windows and doors closed and reducing outdoor activities. In addition, construction sites and factories have also been ordered to reduce emissions, and regulation of burning of straw must be enhanced, according to the city’s contingency plan for severe air pollution.

The weather is expected to improve starting from the morning of Oct. 20 thanks to the arrival of a cold front.

Zhang Dawei, head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center, said the city experienced fifth of every year featuring climatic conditions that fail to help dispel smog.

Despite persistent haze this month, official data indicted improved air quality in the first nine months of this year. During the period, the density of fine particulate matter PM2.5 in Beijing decreased by 10.1 percent year-on-year.

Since the central government rolled out an action plan on air pollution control in 2013, Beijing has seen the amount of burned coal reduced by 48 percent, the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau announced Tuesday.

Fang Li, deputy head of the bureau, said the watchdog has fined more than 60 million yuan (8.9 million U.S. dollars) in over 10,000 law-breaking cases this year.

Source: Beijing issues air pollution alert – Xinhua |

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Air pollution levels rising 

The levels of air pollution in Kathmandu Valley has been increasing rapidly since the day after Bijaya Dashami last week, as traffic movement returned to normal with people returning to the capital from their home districts after Dashain celebrations.

The Air Quality Monitoring Station in Ratnapark showed that all four parameters of air pollution  PM10, PM2.5, PM1 and Total Suspended Particulate  have recorded continuous increment.

The data has shown that on Bijaya Dashami, which was on October 11, PM10 was around 120, PM2.5 was 90, PM1 was 19, and TSP was 92. However, on October 16, PM10 reached 235, PM2.5 reached 110, PM1 reached 90, and TSP reached 338.

Senior Divisional Chemist at the Department of Environment Shankar Prasad Paudel said that the increment of traffic and human activity in the Valley were the main causes behind the increase in air pollution.

“This is definitely because many people have returned after celebrating Dashain and vehicular movement has increased,” he told The Himalayan Times, adding, “All four air quality parameters have shown increment after Dashain.”

Currently, the department is monitoring air pollution through one station installed in Ratnapark of Kathmandu. Another station will reportedly be installed in Dhulikhel by the end of this week.

With that station, the government will be operating 15 air quality monitoring stations throughout the country by the end of this fiscal year.

Source: Air pollution levels rising – The Himalayan Times

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Choking smog hits Beijing, with clear skies not expected until Monday 

Beijing woke to more choking smog on Friday morning with the skies not expected to clear until Monday.

The capital’s Environmental Protection Bureau issued a blue alert for air pollution on Thursday afternoon, forecasting an air quality index of between 200 and 300 for at least a day.

Visibility dropped to below 500 metres in some areas of the city as the pollution mixed with heavy fog.

At 9am, the capital recorded an average air quality index of 277 with some areas reaching almost 350, according to monitoring data from the United States Embassy in Beijing.


The smog blanketed not only Beijing but also some parts of Liaoning and Shandong provinces and was expected to continue through Saturday.

The poor air quality is expected to improve gradually to “slightly polluted”, or an AQI of between 100 and 150, on Saturday when it is forecast to rain, but will only change to “good”, or an AQI of between 50 and 100, on Monday.

Wang Buying, an engineer with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre, told Xinhua that Beijing was more likely to experience temperature inversion, or temperature rising with height, in September and October when the weather is usually stable with little rain, which makes it very difficult for pollutants to disperse.

No disruption to flights has been reported at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Source: Choking smog hits Beijing, with clear skies not expected until Monday | South China Morning Post

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London pollution death toll to hit 2,500 


The death toll from tiny particulate pollution in London is on the brink of hitting 2,500 this year, according to new figures.

At least four boroughs – Barnet, Bromley, Croydon and Ealing – have seen the deadly impact of long-term exposure to human-made PM2.5 pollution rise above 100.

The analysis by Clean Air in London showed the total for the capital reached 2,475 today and is set to climb above 2,500 within days.

Levels of this type of toxic pollution, found by scientists to be particularly dangerous as it can infiltrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, are worse in central London, including Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.

But the death toll is higher in several outer boroughs given their large populations.

“Even these shocking numbers understate the dangers we face,” said Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London.

“They exclude the effects of other air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other health effects such as reduced lung function in children for life.”

While new Mayor Sadiq Khan had “woken up” to the problem, he added, the Government was failing to do enough to tackle it.

Nearly half of Londoners now say filthy air has impacted on their health, according to a new poll.

The TNS survey for London Councils also showed the figure was even higher among cyclists, 59 per cent, parents, 58 per cent, people living in inner London, 51 per cent, and those who had arrived in the capital in the last five years, 56 per cent.

The most common health problem which Londoners blamed on air pollution was breathing difficulties, 16 per cent of those citing symptoms, worsening asthma, 11 per cent, and coughing, nine per cent.

Nearly half of parents in the capital, 48 per cent, now say that the state of the air influenced their decision on picking a school for their children.

Fifty-four per cent of them say it is on their mind when thinking about where they live.

Cllr Julian Bell, London Councils’ executive member for transport and environment, said: “This research highlights the very real concerns many Londoners have about air pollution.

“The fact so many people reported a negative impact on their health, and concerns about the health of their children, is worrying and shows this continues to be an issue of huge significance in our city.”

He urged the Government to draw up a new Air Quality Strategy and pass new Clean Air Act legislation so existing air pollution limits and targets are not scrapped due to Brexit.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth will take the Government back to court next week to try to force it to step up action to cut NO2 levels which are above EU legal limits in many parts of the city.

NO2 and PM2.5 are estimated to cause an annual death toll, the combined total of life lost due to these pollutants in London, equivalent to up to 9,400 lives.

ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton said: “The air we breathe in this city is illegal and it harms the health of Londoners.“

The government needs to get a grip of this public health crisis.”The Government stressed it was “firmly committed” to improving air quality and that its latest report to the European Commission showed progress was being made.

A spokesman added: “We know there is more to do, which is why we have committed more than £2 billion to greener transport schemes since 2011 and we will continue to work closely with the Mayor of London to improve air quality in the capital.”

Mr Khan is proposing introducing a £10-a-day “T-charge” on the most polluting vehicles next year and an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone, possibly a year early in 2019.

TNS interviewed 1,006 Londoners between September 12 and 15. Data are weighted.

Source: London pollution death toll to hit 2,500 | London Evening Standard

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School children put at risk by air pollution, says charity 

School children are not being protected from air pollution, a leading health charity has said.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) found more than 40% of Welsh councils did not have any air quality monitors outside schools.

This prompted the charity to launch a petition calling for urgent action from the UK and Welsh governments.

The Welsh Government said it was “firmly committed to improving air quality across Wales.”

The BLF said Wales already had some of the highest rates of lung disease in the UK and exposing children to more polluted air would only make it worse.

The charity’s Freedom of Information request to Welsh councils found:

  • Seven out of 17 councils which responded had not placed any air quality monitors within 10m (33ft) of a school
  • In the five areas identified as having unsafe levels of particle pollution – Cardiff, Chepstow in Monmouthshire, Newport, Swansea and Port Talbot – only six schools had nearby monitors
  • Three councils – Caerphilly, Denbighshire and Pembrokeshire – did not consider schools to be a priority when placing air quality monitors

“Children’s lung health is particularly vulnerable to air pollution, yet they are not being protected by the government’s air quality monitoring guidance,” said Joseph Carter, head of BLF Wales.

He said the UK Government needed to bring forward a new clean air act and the Welsh Government needed to change its guidance to councils to make sure it monitored air quality outside schools.

Head teachers’ union NAHT Cymru is supporting the BLF’s petition.

Rob Williams, the union’s director of policy, said: “Schools leaders in Wales strive to create safe and happy environments for children. However, they cannot address the potentially dangerous levels of pollution around their schools.”

A spokesman said the Welsh Government was “firmly committed to improving air quality” and provided guidance to councils to help them fulfil their responsibilities for reviewing local air quality.

“We recently launched a consultation on this subject which recognises the immediate and long-term health benefits to be gained by reducing pollution exposure across Wales alongside action on localised pollution hotspots,” he added.

Source: School children put at risk by air pollution, says charity – BBC News

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