GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Most people around the world are breathing bad air, because of both human activity and the environment, according to the World Health Organization.
The WHO today released a map of data, collected from more than 3,000 locations around the world, showing that 92 percent of all people are exposed to too much air pollution and are at higher risk for noncommunicable disease as a result of poor air quality.
About 3 million deaths per year are linked to outdoor air pollution exposure, and another 6.5 million deaths are linked to indoor air pollution, the agency reports. About 90 percent of the deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, but the results of bad air can be found globally.
"This new model is a big step forward towards even more confident estimates of the huge global burden of more than 6 million deaths -- 1 in 9 of total global deaths -- from exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution," Dr. Maria Neira, director of the WHO's Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said in a press release. "More and more cities are monitoring air pollution now, satellite data is more comprehensive, and we are getting better at refining the related health estimates."
Data for the new map is based on satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors in more than 3,000 urban and rural locations as part of the Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database.
WHO researchers analyzed levels particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers in all 3,000 cities for the new analysis, mapping it with additional data on particulates less than 10 micrometers in diameter.
The WHO limit on particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter -- 10 micrograms per cubic meter -- was met by less than 8 percent of locations, according to the new analysis, which is broken down by country and individual city.
Although the agency says one-third of monitored cities in low- and middle-income countries, and more than half in high-income nations, have reduced air pollution by about five percent in the last five years, much more work must be done.
"Fast action to tackle air pollution can't come soon enough," Neira said. "Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions."