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WHO rewrites air quality guidelines, slashing safe limit for pollutants from fossil fuels by 50%


Key points from article :

The WHO has cut its recommended limits for air pollution and urged nations to tackle dirty air and save millions of lives.

In the first update for 16 years, the guideline limit for tiny particles from burning fossil fuels has been halved (from 10 to 5 µg/m3).

For NO2, the WHO has cut the annual average limit from 40 to 10 µg/m3.

“Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries,” - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general.

A recent study estimated 8.7 million early deaths a year from coal, oil and gas burning – 20% of all deaths.

A 2019 review concluded that air pollution may cause heart and lung disease, diabetes and dementia and reducing intelligence.

Even the new limits should not be considered safe, as there appears to be no level at which pollutants stop causing damage.

In the UK, legal pollution limits for PM2.5 and NO2 were now four times the WHO guidelines.

The WHO said dirty air often affected the most vulnerable people and that clean air should be a “fundamental human right”.

A step towards breathing harmless air amidst rising evidence of deadly harm from air pollution

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Director General at World Health Organization.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health