Quantifying environmental health impacts

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7 MAY 2014 | GENEVA - Air quality in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor (ambient) air pollution fails to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels, putting people at additional risk of respiratory disease and other health problems. WHO’s urban air quality database covers 1600 cities across 91 countries – 500 more cities than the previous database (2011), revealing that more cities worldwide are monitoring outdoor air quality, reflecting growing recognition of air pollution’s health risks.

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25 MARCH 2014 | GENEVA - In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

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26 SEPTEMBER 2011 | GENEVA -- In many cities air pollution is reaching levels that threaten people's health according to an unprecedented compilation of air quality data released today by WHO. The information includes data from nearly 1100 cities across 91 countries, including capital cities and cities with more than 100 000 residents.
WHO estimates more than 2 million people die every year from breathing in tiny particles present in indoor and outdoor air pollution.

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13 JUNE 2007 | GENEVA -- WHO released the first ever country-by-country analysis of the impact environmental factors have on health. The data show huge inequalities but also demonstrate that in every country, people's health could be improved by reducing environmental risks including pollution, hazards in the work environment, UV radiation, noise, agricultural risks, climate and ecosystem change. The country profiles provide a preliminary estimate of health impacts caused by environmental risks and indicate opportunities for targeted action to prevent disease.

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30 APRIL 2007 | GENEVA -- Globally, reliance on solid fuels has emerged as one of the ten most important threats to public health. The national burden of disease due to indoor air pollution from solid fuel use was assessed for the year 2002. In addition to total deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) due to indoor air pollution, country-by-country estimates are also available for deaths due to acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) among children as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer among adults.

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25 JULY 2006 | GENEVA -- Human exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation has important public health implications. Evidence of harm associated with overexposure to UV has been demonstrated in many studies. Skin cancer and malignant melanoma are among the most severe health effects, but a series of other health effects have been identified. The current report provides a quantification of the global disease burden associated with UV. The information presented forms a knowledge base for the prevention of adverse effects of UV exposure that is achievable with known and accessible interventions. UV prevention focuses on protecting the skin and other organs from UV radiation. On the other hand, a moderate degree of UV exposure is necessary for the production of Vitamin D which is essential for bone health. Additionally, evidence emerges that low Vitamin D levels are likely to be associated with other chronic diseases. Thus, public health policy on ultraviolet radiation needs to aim at preventing the disease burden associated both with excessive and with insufficient UV exposure

Preventing disease through healthy environments: Towards an estimate of the environmental burden of disease

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16 JUNE 2006 | GENEVA -- How much disease could be prevented through better management of our environment? To answer this question, the available scientific evidence was summarized and more than 100 experts were consulted. This report summarizes the results globally, and shows that environmental risk factors play a role in more than 80% of the diseases regularly reported by the World Health Organization. Globally, nearly one quarter of all deaths and of the total disease burden can be attributed to the environment. In children, however, environmental risk factors can account for slightly more than one-third of the disease burden.