PH ranks second in WHO list for deadly indoor pollution in Asia Pacific

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Indoor air pollution, caused by cooking with kerosene and solid fuels such as wood in polluting stoves, open fires and lamps, has been linked to deaths among women and children.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 2) The Philippines is the Asia Pacific region's second deadliest country for household air pollution, according to the study of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Lao People's Democratic Republic is currently the deadliest country in Asia Pacific for household or indoor air pollution.

Indoor air pollution, caused by cooking with kerosene and solid fuels such as wood in polluting stoves, open fires and lamps, has been linked to deaths among women and children.

"Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "If we don't take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development."

As for outdoor or ambient air pollution, the Philippines ranks as the third deadliest country in the Asia Pacific Region, according to the study. China still tops the most hazardous country when it comes to outdoor pollution, followed by Mongolia.

Outdoor air pollution are caused by pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which pose the greatest risks to human health. Air quality can also be influenced by natural elements such as geographical, meteorological and seasonal factors, the report added.

One third of global air pollution deaths in Asia Pacific

WHO also reported that around one third, or 2.2 million of the world's 7 million premature deaths each year from household and ambient air pollution are in the WHO Western Pacific Region-home to one quarter of the world's population.

 "Air pollution is the most lethal environmental health threat in our Region, and it affects people in middle-income countries at a much higher rate than those in high-income countries," said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

"Addressing air pollution and climate change are top priorities for WHO in the Western Pacific Region, but they are not challenges that individuals or the health sector alone can solve. We need urgent action across energy, agriculture, transport, housing and beyond to ensure a healthy and sustainable future," he added.

According to the study, 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Polluted air penetrates deep into their lungs and cardiovascular system. Among the 2.2 million air pollution-related deaths in this region in 2016, 29 percent were due to heart disease, 27 percent stroke, 22 percent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 14 percent lung cancer and 8 percent pneumonia.

WHO, meanwhile, sees more governments are committed  to monitor and reduce air pollution.  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.