Notwithstanding ongoing economic inequality in the world, the World Health Organization, or WHO, released a report Wednesday detailing that the air quality divide between rich and poor countries is steadily increasing.
“Air pollution threatens us all,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement, “but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden. “It is unacceptable that over three billion people - most of them women and children - are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes.”
While the quality of air gradually improved in affluent countries, air pollution deteriorates further in poorer nations.
The WHO estimates that a total of 90 percent of people worldwide breath polluted air and roughly seven million people die annually because of it.
The health agency conducted its research by comparing the number of small particles in the air, according to Al-Jazeera. These particles are inhaled by people and enter their lungs and cardiovascular system, causing cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory problems.
Low-income countries in Asia and Africa are home to the vast majority – over 90 percent - of those who succumb to breathing polluted air.
Major issues contributing to air pollution include the lack of access to clean cooking fuels, cleaning appliances, global transportation and industrial agriculture, which includes the use of agro-toxins.
Despite the appalling data, Tedros exalted the virtue of increasingly clean air in richer countries, saying “The good news is that we are seeing more and more governments increasing commitments to monitor and reduce air pollution, as well as more global action from the health sector and other sectors like transport, housing and energy."