Air pollution increasing in cities

The Nile River, Cairo

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80% of the urban population lives exposed to polluted air and it is in low-income cities where this seems to be more impacted. Some of the negative impacts of air pollution includes risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases.

Air pollution is a major cause of disease and death. It is good news that more cities are stepping up to monitor air quality, so when they take actions to improve it they have a benchmark,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant-Director General, Family, Women and Children’s Health. “When dirty air blankets our cities the most vulnerable urban populations—the youngest, oldest and poorest—are the most impacted.”

The WHO has a database of more than 3000 cities in 103 countries, gathers data on regulated air quality monitoring systems. Bellow is the WHO Ambient Air Quality Guidelines: Annual mean concentrations of particulate matter (PM10 and/or PM2.5):

10 μg/m3 annual mean
25 μg/m3 24-hour mean

20 μg/m3 annual mean
50 μg/m3 24-hour mean

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Photo: The Nile River, Cairo by l.hillesheim