In 2012, about 7 million people died worldwide as a result of air pollution exposure -- making air pollution the world’s largest single environmental health risk, World Health Organization officials in Geneva say.
Dr. Flavia Bustreo, assistant director-general of WHO's Family, Women and Children’s Health, says the new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also a better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants using improved technology.
Estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were formulated via new global data mapping using satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements, and data on pollution emission.
“Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves," Bustreo says in a statement.
Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives, WHO officials say. Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases.