WHO slashes guideline limits on air pollution from fossil fuels
28th Sep, 2021
The World Health Organization has cut its recommended limits for air pollution, for the first time since 2005.
- The new recommendations targeting pollutants including particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, both of which are found in fossil fuel emissions.
- NO2: The new limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), mainly produced by diesel engines, is now 75% lower.
- PM 2.5: Under the new guidelines, the WHO halved the recommended limit for average annual PM2.5 level from 10 micrograms per cubic meter to 5.
- PM 10: It also lowered the recommended limit for PM10 from 20 micrograms to 15.
- These guidelines not legally-binding.
WHO’s 2005 guideline
- The 2005 WHO Air quality guidelines offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for key air pollutants that pose health risks.
- The Guidelines indicate that by reducing particulate matter (PM10) pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m), we can cut air pollution-related deaths by around 15%.
Air pollution, the greatest environmental threat
- Air pollution kills at least 7 million people prematurely each year.
- In 2019, a full 90% of the global population was breathing air considered unhealthy by the 2005 guidelines.
- India, still have national standards that are looser than those 2005 recommendations.
India last revised its National Ambient Air Quality Standards in 2009 —setting annual averages for
- PM2.5 (40 ug/m3)
- PM10 (60 ug/m3)
- NO2 (40 us/m3)
About the Organization
- Founded in 1948, WHO is the United Nations agency.
- It connects nations, partners and people to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable – so that everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health.
- Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
- India is a member state of the South East Asia Region at the WHO.