The World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time issued Global Air Quality Guidelines on Thursday so as to enhance awareness on air pollution that kills 2 million people each year with most of the deaths occurring in developing countries.
The WHO appealed to governments to enhance air quality in the cities. A statement issued by the WHO's regional office in Manila revealed that almost 3,00,000 lives could be saved every year by bringing down the PM10 type of pollution i.e., particulate matter with size of the particles less than 10 micrometers.
Mainly, burning of fossil fuels and other forms of fuel cause PM10 pollution. As the particles are too small to be filtered in the nose and throat, they enter the lungs and dwell there leading to health disorders.
The recent WHO guidelines appeals to reduce the PM10 annual level to less than 20 micrograms per cubic meter in cities. According to the WHO, in several cities this level is more than 70 micrograms.
'This could cut the deaths from air pollution by about 15 per cent,' said Maria Neira, the WHO director for public health and the environment.
'It could also cut the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer,' she said.
Particulate matter pollution is believed to be the major health risk.
The daily allowed limits for ozone has been decreased from 120 ( as per previous guidelines) to 100 micrograms per cubic meter under the new WHO Air Quality Guidelines.