WHO: Construction responsible for 39% of air pollution

For the World Health Organisation, the safety threshold has been exceeded

For the World Health Organisation, the safety threshold has been exceeded

In a previous article on the Sistem Air blog, we wrote about the latest air quality report published by the WHO. According to the report, almost the entire world population (99%) breathes air that exceeds the air quality limits suggested by the WHO. Thus threatening their health.

The WHO report shows that construction is responsible for 39% of global pollution with construction waste (C&D), often toxic and harmful, accounting for more than 1/3 of all waste produced in Europe. There is also an increased risk of cancer in areas close to the cement industry. Construction is also responsible for 36% of global electricity consumption and 1/3 of global drinking water consumption; promoting climate change and removing 35 hectares per day of soil.

The findings have prompted the World Health Organisation to stress the importance of limiting the use of fossil fuels and taking other tangible measures to reduce air pollution levels.

WHO directions to governments to improve air quality and health

WHO directions to governments to improve air quality and health

Several governments are taking measures to improve air quality, but the WHO calls for a rapid intensification of action to:

  • Adopt or review and implement national air quality standards according to the latest WHO air quality guidelines
  • Monitor air quality and identify sources of air pollution
  • Support the transition to the exclusive use of clean domestic energy for cooking, heating and lighting
  • Invest in energy-efficient housing and energy production
  • Improve industrial and municipal waste management
  • Include air pollution in health worker curricula and provide tools for health sector involvement.

About 4,000 cities/human settlements in 74 countries collect NO2 data at ground level. Aggregated, their measurements show that only 23% of people in these places breathe annual average NO2 concentrations that meet the levels in the recently updated version of the WHO Air Quality Guidelines.

Monitoring must be improved

Monitoring must be improved

People living in low- and middle-income countries are the most exposed to air pollution. They are also the least covered in terms of air quality measurements, but the situation is improving.

Europe and, to some extent, North America, remain the regions with the most comprehensive air quality data. In many low- and middle-income countries, although PM 2.5 measurements are not yet available, they have seen great improvements in measurements between the last database update in 2018 and this one, with an additional 1,500 human settlements in these countries monitoring air quality.

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