GENEVA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- A new World Health Organization (WHO) air quality model confirms that 92 percent of the world's population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits.
"The new WHO model shows countries where the air pollution danger spots are, and provides a baseline for monitoring progress in combatting it," said Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at WHO.
Based on data derived from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3000 locations, both rural and urban, the model represents the most detailed outdoor (or ambient) air pollution-related health data, by country, ever reported by WHO.
WHO said some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
The model has carefully calibrated data from satellite and ground stations to maximize reliability.
"This new model is a big step forward towards even more confident estimates of the huge global burden of more than 6 million deaths -- one in nine of total global deaths -- from exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution," said Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
"More and more cities are monitoring air pollution now, satellite data is more comprehensive, and we are getting better at refining the related health estimates," Neira added.
Nearly 90 percent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle income countries, with nearly two out of three occurring in WHO's Southeast Asia and Western Pacific Regions.