HA NOI, 02 MAY 2018 – New data from the World Health Organization (WHO) find that more than 60 000 deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in Viet Nam in 2016 were linked to air pollution.
Clean air is a basic requirement for human health and well-being. That’s why WHO is working closely with the government and relevant stakeholders in Viet Nam to raise awareness on air pollution and identify ways to protect the public from the health impacts of air pollution.
Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative to Viet Nam.
Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of Asia. The WHO estimates show that 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants, and this leads to 7 million premature deaths worldwide from household (indoor) and ambient (outdoor) air pollution.
Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden. If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO
Fine particles in polluted air penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system. Among the 2.2 million air pollution-related deaths in the WHO Western Pacific Region in 2016, 29% were due to heart disease, 27% stroke, 22% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 14% lung cancer and 8% pneumonia.
More countries taking action
More than 4,300 cities in 108 countries are now included in WHO’s ambient air quality database, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, making it the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution.
The database collects annual mean concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). PM2.5 includes pollutants, such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which pose the greatest risks to human health. WHO air quality recommendations call for countries to reduce their air pollution to annual mean values of 20 μg/m3 for PM10 and 10 μg/m3 for PM2.5.
In 2016, these figures were 102.3 μg/m3 for PM10 and 47.9 μg/m3 for PM2.5 in Hanoi, and 89.8 μg/m3 for PM10 and 42 μg/m3 for PM2.5 in Ho Chi Minh City, according to the WHO database.
“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than 5 times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “We are seeing an acceleration of political interest in this global public health challenge. The increase in cities recording air pollution data reflects a commitment to air quality assessment and monitoring.”
In Viet Nam, the main sources of air pollution are transportation, industrial production, construction, agricultural production and handicrafts, and improper waste management, according to the 2013 Report on Air Pollution by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Air pollution does not recognize borders. Improving air quality demands sustained and coordinated government action at all levels. Countries, relevant ministries, agencies, organizations and public people need to work together on solutions. Later this year, WHO will convene the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, bringing together governments and partners in a global effort to improve air quality and combat climate change.