WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines 2021-Impact on health and key changes_00.1
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WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines 2021-Impact on health and key changes

WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 3: Environment- Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation.

Global Innovation Index 2021

 

WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines- Context

  • Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its first-ever update since 2005 has tightened global air pollution standards.
  • WHO updated these standards in a recognition of the emerging science in the last decade that suggests the impact of air pollution on health is much more serious than previously envisaged.

 

WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines- Key Points

  • WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood. Key findings are-
    • In 2019, 99% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met.
    • Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2016.
    • Some 91% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries and the greatest number in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
    • Indoor smoke is a serious health risk for some 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomass, kerosene fuels and coal.
  • WHO recommends new air quality levels to protect the health of populations: This is to be done by reducing levels of key air pollutants from the environment, many of which are also responsible for Global Climate Change.
  • Key Changes: WHO announces limits for six pollutant categories– particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10, ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).

 Global Methane Pledge

 

 

Pollutant Averaging Time 2005 (AGQs) 2021 (AGQs)
PM 2.5 Annual and 24 Hour mean 10 and 25 Respectively 5 and 15 Resp.
PM 10 Annual and 24 Hour mean 20 and 50 Resp. 15 and 45 Resp.
Ozone (O3) Peak Season and 8 hours Undefined for peak season and 100 for 8 hours 60 and 100 resp.
NO2 Annual and 24 Hour mean 40 and undefined resp. 10 and 25 resp.
SO2 24 hours 20 40
CO 24 hours Undefined 4

 

WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines 2021-Impact on health and key changes_50.1

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WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines- Impact on India

  • India’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) don’t meet the WHO’s existing standards, hence, the updated global air pollution standards won’t affect India immediately.
    • Experts say that the WHO move sets the stage for eventual shifts in policy in the government towards evolving newer stricter standards.
  • National Clean Air Program: It aims for a 20% to 30% reduction in particulate matter concentrations by 2024 in 122 cities, keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
    • These are cities that don’t meet the NAAQS when calculated from 2011-2015.

 

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