Rich cities have improved, but pollution in poorer countries is still rising and kills 7 million people a year globally, WHO data reveals
Jonathan WattsTue 1 May 2018 22.01 BST
Pollution inequality between the world’s rich and poor is widening, according to the latest global data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which shows that 7 million people – mostly in developing nations – die every year from airborne contaminants.
Overall, nine in 10 people on the planet live with poor, even dangerous, air, says the WHO report, which is considered the most comprehensive collection of global air quality data. But levels of contamination vary widely depending on government actions and financial resources.
For the first time, the report included regional historic data, which showed that more than 57% of cities in the Americas and more than 61% of cities in Europe had seen a fall in PM10 and PM2.5 particulate matter between 2010 and 2016.
But these gains were set against a worsening trend in other regions.
The most rapid deterioration was in south and south-east Asia, where more than 70% of poor cities suffered worsening air quality. The Middle East was also badly affected.