WHO says air pollution kills 7 million a year, toughens guidelines

What is the News?

The World Health Organization(WHO) has released the Global Air Quality Guidelines(AQGs).

What are Global Air Quality Guidelines(AQGs)?

Global Air Quality Guidelines(AQGs) is an annual mean concentration guideline for particulate matter and other pollutants.

The guidelines were last updated in 2005. Since then, there has been a marked increase of evidence that shows how air pollution affects different aspects of health.

Hence, that’s why these new guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations by reducing levels of key air pollutants.

Note: These guidelines are not legally binding. They are an evidence-informed tool for policy-makers to guide legislation and policies.

What are the new guidelines?

The new guidelines recommend air quality levels for six pollutants — particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10, ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).

Source: TOI
What do these guidelines mean for India?

Questions have been raised regarding the feasibility of implementing the new guidelines, especially in challenging geo-climatic zones like South Asia, including India.

The WHO guidelines have sharpened the difference with India’s ambient air quality standards that are in the intermediate category and require revision over time to finally attain the WHO limit.

For instance, India’s annual average standard for PM2.5 is 40 μg / m3. That is eight times laxer than the new WHO guidelines. The 24-hour standard is 60 μg / m3, which is four times more lenient.

Similarly, the annual average standard for PM10 at 60 μg / m3 is four times more lax and the 24-hour standard of 100 μg / m3 is two times more lax than the WHO guidelines.

India aligns with the WHO guidelines only in the case of ozone and carbon monoxide, as these have not changed. But both NO2 and SO2 guidelines are tighter than the current Indian standard.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • “Experts welcome stricter air quality norms published in The Hindu on 23rd September 2021.
  • WHO says air pollution kills 7 million a year, toughens guidelinespublished in Livemint on 23rd September 2021.
  • Air pollution one of the biggest environmental threats to human health: WHO”  published in Business standard on 23rd September 2021.
  • WHO raises the bar on clean air” published in Down To Earth on 23rd September 2021.
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