Intended for healthcare professionals


Half of wealthy and 98% of poorer cities breach air quality guidelines

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 13 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2730
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. London

More than 80% of people living in urban areas where air pollution is monitored are exposed to harmful air quality levels, the World Health Organization has warned.

WHO said that new findings from its urban ambient air pollution database, published on 12 May, showed that global urban air pollution levels increased by 8% from 2008 to 2013, despite improvements in some regions.1

Poorer areas had worse results—98% of cities in low and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants did not meet WHO air quality guidelines compared with 56% in high income countries.

Maria Neira, WHO director for public health and the environment, said, “Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health.” But the agency said that awareness of the issue was rising as more cities were monitoring their air quality. The …

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