The European Respiratory Society (ERS) and thirteen partner organisations have written to the World Health Organization (WHO) to call on WHO to proceed with the rapid publication and dissemination of the 2021 update to the WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs).
Updates to the WHO AQGs on outdoor pollution have not been published since 2005. The last guidelines offered recommendations on the pollutants particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), but since 2005, the available evidence on the harmful health effects of short- and long-term exposure to these pollutants has advanced significantly.
Prof. Zorana J. Andersen, Chair of the ERS Environment and Health Committee, said: “Over the course of our lives, air pollution exposure shortens our lives, damages the lungs, and increases the risk of developing chronic respiratory diseases. The evidence is clear: there is no known threshold below which air pollution is safe.
“ERS and our partners have published a number of statements on the link between air pollution and diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems since 2005, when the last WHO guidelines were released, but publication of the 2021 WHO AQGs is urgently needed to reiterate the pressing need to lower air pollution concentrations at every level.
“Lowering the level of air pollutants will not only lead to enormous improvements in public health, but it will help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change.”
ERS and partners call on WHO to publish the WHO AQGs 2021 without delay to address this public health emergency, and we offer our support to WHO in disseminating the WHO AQG findings and policy recommendations as widely as possible.