Children walking to school wearing smog pollution masks in Britain. Residents in many developing countries are exposed to toxic air both outdoors and inside their homes. Photograph: David Bagnall/Alamy
More than 95% of the world's population breathe unsafe air, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found.
Cities are home to an increasing majority of the world's people,
exposing billions to unsafe air
, particularly in developing countries, but no country is safe anymore. One in three people worldwide faces the double whammy of unsafe air both indoors and out.
report by the Health Effects Institute
used new findings such as satellite data and better monitoring to estimate the numbers of people exposed to air polluted above the levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization. This exposure has made air pollution the fourth highest cause of death globally, after high blood pressure, diet and smoking, and the
greatest environmental health risk
Experts estimate that exposure to air pollution contributed to more than 6 million deaths worldwide last year, playing a role in increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, lung cancer and chronic lung disease. China and India accounted for more than half of the death toll.
Emissions from transport are a growing concern as populations and road traffic increase.
Diesel fuel is a leading cause of air pollution
in some rich countries, including the UK and US, but in poorer countries the often decrepit state of many vehicles means petrol-driven engines can be just as bad in their outputs, especially of the fine particulate matter blamed for millions of deaths a year.
Tuesday's report reinforces an
increasing volume of data
in recent years that has shown how air pollution is increasing and causing deaths. More data has become available in the past decade from satellites and on-the-ground monitoring, while large-scale studies have revealed more of the
health risks arising
from breathing dirty air, which rarely kills people directly but is now known to contribute to other causes of death.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
Unless drastic changes are made in our methods of transportation, energy use and industrial pollution, it will only get worse.
We must be proactive and take steps every single day to detox our bodies of chemicals and heavy metals through a clean diet and proper supplementation.
Find out more about what you can do to reduce or eliminate the chemicals and toxic heavy metals that are accumulating in your body by clicking here: