More than nine of every 10 people in the world lives in areas that do not meet World Health Organization (WHO) air safety guidelines, and Mexico’s population is exposed to levels of air pollution of up to three times the recommended threshold, according to a WHO study released this week.
The report indicates that in 2012, one out of every nine deaths was the result of air pollution-related conditions. This translates to 3 million deaths globally for 2012 related to outdoor air pollution and 4.3 million related to indoor pollution, 93,000 of which occurred in low-middle income American countries. Around 87 percent of those deaths occurred in low-middle income countries, where 82 percent of the world’s population live.
Causes of death include acute lower respiratory in children under five, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ischemic heart disease (IHD), stroke and lung cancers in adults. Other associated health effects include adverse birth outcomes, childhood respiratory disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and neurodevelopment and cognitive function, according to the WHO report. Recent studies have also begun to show links between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease. The organization measures air pollution in PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅, which is particulate matter of less than 10 and 2.5 micrometers. The measures are an average, taken between 2010 and 2015. It recommends no more than an annual mean of 20µg/m3 for PM₁₀ and 10µg/m3 for PM₂.₅. Pollution in Mexico has been notoriously bad in the past with urgent measures such as the “No-Drive Day” (Hoy No Circula) being implemented.