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Africa, Asia most affected by household air pollution

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Africa and Asia, two continents where polluting fuel and technologies are used every day at home for cooking, are the most affected by the resultant effect of air pollution.

The organisation said in a report, How Air Pollution is Destroying our Health, that nine out of 10 people breathe polluted air which kills seven million people every year.

The UN Health body said that these microscopic pollutants in the air slip past the body's defences and circulatory system damaging the lungs, heart and brain.

It said that one third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease were due to air pollution calling all countries to action in addressing the problem.

According to WHO, the very air we breathe is growing dangerously polluted; air pollution is hard to escape no matter how rich an area you live in. It is all around us'.

Household air pollution kills four million people every year and tends to affect countries in Africa and Asia where polluting fuels and technologies are used every day particularly at home for cooking, heating and lighting.

As the world gets hotter and more crowded, our engines continue to pump out dirty emissions and half of the world has no access to clean fuels or technologies like stove or lamps.

The lack of visible smog is no indication that the air is healthy. Across the world, the toxic pollutants in the air in both cities and villages, exceed the average annual values recommended by WHO's air quality guidelines.

There are two main types of air pollution; ambient air pollution which is the outdoor pollution, and household air pollution.

Air pollution refers to household combustion of fuels caused by burning fuel such as coal, wood or kerosene and using open fire or basic stove in poorly ventilated spaces.'

WHO said that women and children who mostly spent time indoors were the most affected by air pollution', stating that every year, 543,000 children under 5years die from respiratory disease linked to air pollution.

The organisation said that air pollution was also linked to childhood cancers, cognitive impairment in children and adults, and it affected the foetal brain growth in pregnant women exposed to air pollution.

It called on parents and guardians to ensure they limit walking on busy streets while carrying children with them, adding that children should be lifted above the level of vehicle exhausts.

It also called on individuals to limit spending time at specific hotspots of traffic such as cars stopped at traffic lights and to stop burning waste as the smoke that results damages the health.

However, WHO said that it was working with partners to develop ways to support countries in addressing the problem of air pollution.

It said that this would be achieved through the development of policies and implementing the WHO recommendation on household fuel combustion.

The organisation said that it had also convened the first Global Conference on Air Pollution in Geneva from October 30 to November 1.

The UN body said that the conference would rally the world towards major commitments to fight the problem and seek agreement on a target to reduce the seven million deaths from air pollution.

Source: Voice of Nigeria