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WHO Estimates One in Eight Deaths Relates to Air Pollution

WHO25 March 2014: The World Health Organization (WHO) has released an updated set of estimates on the burden of disease from air pollution. The data show that the combined effects of household and ambient air pollution were responsible for seven million deaths worldwide in 2012.

According to the estimates, deaths from air pollution are almost twice as high as previously thought. In particular, the data show that air pollution is a strong risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infections in children.

WHO estimates that indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves. Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, underscored that healthier strategies in the transport, energy, waste management and industrial sector will be "more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains."

The estimates are part of WHO's activities towards developing a roadmap for preventing diseases related to air pollution, which also include an WHO-hosted global platform on air quality and health, strengthened support to countries and cities, and the preparation of indoor air quality guidelines on household fuel combustion to be released later in 2014. [WHO Press Release] [Publication: Air Pollution Estimates] [WHO Website on Air Pollution]