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Accelerate efforts to address air pollution: WHO to South-East Asian countries

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The WHO today called upon member countries in the South-region to aggressively address the issue of pollution, saying it accounts for 34 per cent of the seven million premature deaths caused by household and ambient together globally every year.

This comes in the wake of a report of the global health body which puts and 13 other Indian cities in the list of 20 most-polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2016.

Stating that contributes significantly to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, of WHO South-East Asia, stressed on the need for investment in effective urban planning with and power generation, building safe and affordable and improving industry and

She also sought elimination of the emissions from coal and biomass energy systems, of agricultural waste, forest fires and agro-forestry activities such as charcoal production and support the transition to exclusive use of for cooking, heating and lighting.

Singh drew attention to the example of India's Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala scheme under which, in the last two years, 37 million women living below the poverty line were provided free LPG connections to support them to switch to use. The country targets to reach 80 million households by 2020.

"The availability of affects us all and our families and is a key to sustainable development. All countries in the region are making efforts to expand availability of clean fuels and technologies, however, over 60 per cent population do not have clean fuel," she said.

She said that individuals should also contribute by valuing the and adopting behavioral changes such as using public transport or soot-free' vehicles, using clean, low-or no-emission stoves and fuels for cooking and reducing and disposing of household waste in an environmentally sound manner.

The combined effects of household and ambient air pollution become increasingly hard to address if not tackled early, the said. The majority of countries in the region are at early stages of accelerated urbanization and rapid industrialization.

"Hence, air pollution needs to be brought under control with urgent and effective action at the earliest to stand the best chance to prevent the situation from worsening as development proceeds," Singh said.

Of the 3.8 million deaths caused by household air pollution globally, the region accounts for 1.5 million or 40 per cent deaths, and of the 4.2 million global deaths due to ambient (outdoor) air pollution, 1.3 million or 30 per cent are reported from the region, according to the latest WHO report.

and are among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2016, according to a data released by the WHO..

The WHO data also said that nine out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.

Other Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, and followed by in and a few cities in and

In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 02 2018. 18:30 IST