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Air Pollution Exceeds WHO Limits for 92 Percent of World's People

by Alastair Jamieson /
A commuter wears a mask as he waits to cross a road in Chennai, India, on Tuesday.ARUN SANKAR / AFP - Getty Images

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Nine out of 10 people worldwide live in places where air pollution exceeds guidelines, putting them at higher risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

 A commuter wears a mask as he waits to cross a road in Chennai, India, on Tuesday. ARUN SANKAR / AFP - Getty Images

A new air quality monitoring model, that uses satellite data as well as traditional ground measurements, shows that 92 percent of the world’s population is in areas where the air is dirtier than WHO's limits.

“Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations — women, children and the older adults," Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at the WHO said in a news release. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last."

The organization says three million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution, and nearly 90 percent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Related: Air Pollution Killing 4,000 in China a Day, U.S. Study Finds

Last month, new American research found that thousands of lives might be saved each year if air pollution standards were tightened just a little.

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