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WHO Releases Compilation of Air Quality Data Sets for 1100 Cities

September 2011: The World Health Organization (WHO) has made available a database containing air quality data sets for 1100 cities across 91 countries including an analysis of the burden of disease associated with urban outdoor pollution.

The data sets provide an estimate of air quality based on annual mean concentrations of fine particulate matter in cities during the period of 2003 to 2010. Fine particulate matter can penetrate into the lungs and may enter the bloodstream,  and can cause heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and acute lower respiratory infections.

The analysis of disease burden concludes, among other findings that: persistently elevated levels of fine particle pollution are common across many urban areas, originating from combustion sources such as power plants and motor vehicles; the great majority of urban populations have an average annual exposure in excess of the maximum recommended by the WHO Air Quality Guideline; and for 2008, the estimated mortality attributable to outdoor air pollution in cities amounts to 1.34 million premature deaths.

The analysis further states that an estimated 1.09 million deaths could have been prevented in 2008 if the WHO Guidelines had been universally met. [WHO Press Release] [Air Quality Data Sets]