NEW DELHI - Millions of people living in urban areas around the world are exposed to excessive air pollution and are at a risk of serious, long-term health problems, the World Health Organization said May 7. Air quality in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor air pollution fails to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels, putting people at risk of respiratory diseases and other health problems, a WHO release said.
It said that in most cities where there is enough data to compare the situation today with previous years, air pollution is getting worse. Many factors contribute to this increase, including reliance on fossil fuels such as coal fired power plants, dependence on private transport motor vehicles, inefficient use of energy in buildings and the use of biomass for cooking and heating. But some cities are making notable improvements demonstrating that air quality can be improved by implementing policy measures such as banning the use of coal for "space heating" in buildings, using renewable or "clean" fuels for electricity production and improving efficiency of motor vehicle engines. The latest available data has prompted WHO to call for greater awareness of health risks caused by air pollution, implementation of effective air pollution mitigation policies and close monitoring of the situation in cities worldwide, the release added. (IANS)