In the WHO’s country estimates on air pollution exposure and health impact, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at WHO, wrote:
Some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6% of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
Nearly 90% of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly 2 out of 3 occurring in WHO’s South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
Ninety-four per cent are due to noncommunicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections.
“Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children and the older adults. For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.”
Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities. However, not all air pollution originates from human activity. For example, air quality can also be influenced by dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts.
India dominated the list, particularly the cities of Delhi, Firozabed and Gwalior. Several cities in Pakistan were also high on the list, places where wood and coal fire and industrial pollution will not go away.