Globally, air pollution is responsible for 1 in 6 premature deaths, making it the world’s most significant environmental risk factor for disease and premature death, which disproportionately harms residents of low and middle-income countries. Alarming statistics from the latest AQLI June 2022 Annual Report revealed that 97.3 percent of the world’s population is breathing air that is deemed unsafe by the World Health Organization guidelines.
So, how do we address this global health crisis that has become the biggest silent killer of our times?
Any significant progress in tackling air pollution would, at the minimum, require four actions working in unison:
Serious action on the government’s part in increasing air pollution monitoring coverage
Whether or not countries have any AAQS (ambient air quality standards) embedded in national air quality governance systems is critical in understanding which countries are serious about tackling this global health crisis. Although there is a global trend for legislating for AAQS, according to UNEP’s Regulating Air Quality: the First Global Assessment of Air Pollution Legislation 2021 report, 34% of the countries have no legislative instruments containing AAQS. Moreover, according to OpenAQ’s Open Air Quality Data: The Global Landscape 2022 report, 39 percent of the countries don’t even have a single government-sponsored (or government-led) air quality monitoring program at the national or sub-national level.